China's Huawei given clean bill of health by UK security board

Journalists attend the presentation of the Huawei's new smartphone, the Ascend P7, launched by China's Huawei Technologies in Paris, May 7, 2014. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

LONDON (Reuters) - China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], the telecoms equipment company whose products are now integral to various mobile and fixed-line networks, poses no threat to Britain’s national security, a board established to monitor the company’s operations said.

The world’s second largest telecoms equipment maker set up an independent cyber security evaluation center in Oxford in 2010 in conjunction with the government to check whether its equipment could pose a threat to national security.

The company has been involved in Britain’s telecoms networks for a decade, initially through a multi-billion pound deal to supply BT, the country’s largest fixed-line operator, and later mobile service operators O2, EE and Talktalk.

But questions have been raised, in Britain and elsewhere, about the potential security implications of allowing the Chinese company access to critical networks.

British lawmakers said in 2013 that Huawei, which was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army officer, should have been scrutinized more closely by ministers before it signed its first major deal with BT.

The board set up to oversee the work of the center, which includes representatives from government, intelligence agencies, and the company, said it was satisfied with the independence and quality of its tests.

“Any risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks have been sufficiently mitigated,” it said.

Huawei said the center showed how governments, operators and equipment providers could work together on cyber security.

“In the globalized, interconnected digital age, we must all work together to deliver the best solutions to the challenges we face,” the company said in a statement.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Greg Mahlich