Huawei has launched a media campaign seeking to shore up support for its work in the UK, as the government threatens to drop the firm in order to quash a backbench rebellion.
The Chinese tech giant giant, which was granted a limited role in Britain’s 5G networks earlier this year, has taken out full page adverts in a number of national newspapers including the Telegraph, Guardian and Times.
It comes amid reports that Downing Street is considering banning the company from supplying parts to British telecoms networks, after saying earlier this year that it would be allowed to support telcos so long as its market share did not exceed 35 per cent, it was excluded from sensitive parts of the network and it was not embedded in the network cores.
The National Cyber Security Centre, a division of Britain’s signals agency GCHQ, has also been commissioned to review the security impact of new US trade sanctions on Huawei, potentially paving the way for a ban on the company’s telecoms kit.
Such a move would mark a significant blow to the firm, which has worked with British telecoms networks for nearly two decades, funds a security oversight centre in Oxfordshire and uses its work in the country to win further deals in other Western markets.
The advert states: “For nearly 20 years, we’ve suppliers the UK’s mobile and broadband companies with 3G and 4G. But some now question our role in helping Britain lead the way in 5G.
“We want you to know we are as committed as ever to providing your network operator with the best equipment so you can share photos, stream movies, get together online and much more.”
Asked whether a move to ban Huawei’s telecoms kit would damage relations between the UK and China, Victor Zhang – Huawei’s UK chief – told NS Tech on a call on Monday (8 June): “As a company we support the open market and free trade and bilateral relations between the uk and china. We need to promote a healthy relationship between the UK and China.”
The media campaign has failed to win over some of the company’s British critics. The Conservative MP Bob Seely told City AM: “Huawei is throwing huge amounts of money at this using slick PR. But what’s clear is that for the Chinese state this is a massive battle that they have to win.”