The British government is to review an Oxfordshire cyber-security centre operated by Huawei, the Chinese smartphone and communications equipment manufacturer.

Huawei cyber-security centre in Oxfordshire is to be investigated by British government. (Credit: Reuters)

The review will be carried out to ensure the country's telecommunications network is protected and in agreement with a recommendation made by parliament's intelligence committee in June to review the facility and maintain confidence in the country's telecom security.

Huawei is the world's second largest telecommunications company with over 150,000 employees and is a major supplier to telecom companies around the world, including BT, O2, TalkTalk and EE in the UK. The company's Cyber Security Evaluation Centre is located in Banbury and opened in 2010 as a place for Huawei to test its networking equipment.

Published last month, parliament's intelligence and security committee (ISC) expressed concern at allegations that Huawei has links to the Chinese government - links the committee's report said "generate suspicion as to whether Huawei's intentions are strictly commercial or are more political."

Huawei has strenuously denied having direct links with the Chinese government or military, claiming it receives no financial support from the state and that it is 98.6% owned by its employees.


A Huawei spokesperson told IBTimes UK the company "welcomes" the UK government's decision to review the cyber-security centre.

The spokesperson added: "Huawei shares the same goal as the UK government and the ISC in raising the standards of cyber-security in the UK and ensuring that network technology benefits UK consumers. Huawei is open to new ideas and ways of working to improve cyber-security."

The ISC report from June continued: "Whether the suspicions about Huawei are legitimate or unfounded, we consider it necessary to ascertain how the company came to be embedded in the heart of the UK's CNI [Critical National Infrastructure]."


As well as facing investigations in the UK, Huawei has been accused by the US government of not being transparent enough about its activities and being too close to the Chinese government, while some of the more outspoken theories claim the company's networking equipment can be used to monitor the activities of US citizens.

During a rare public appearance in May this year, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former soldier in the People's Liberation Army, said his company has "no connection to the cyber-security issues the US has encountered in the past, current or future."

Meanwhile, Huawei is blocked from Australia's National Broadband Network and company executives recently appeared before a parliamentary committee in the country where they were questioned about relationships with the Chinese government and whether the company has ever installed "back door" provisions in computer hardware that "would allow hackers potential access."

Hightened tensions

The announcement of this investigation comes at a time of hightened tension regarding surveillance of internet and telecoms data. This week the ISC ruled as unfounded allegations that UK spys at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) were illegally accessing data about UK citizens using the NSA's Prism programme.

The UK government has yet to answer questions about another UK-run spying programme called Tempora, which allegedly gives GCHQ officals unfettered access to a huge amount of internet traffic passing through the UK by tapping directly into the fibre optic cables which make up the backbone of the internet in this country.