British intelligence claims United Kingdom could manage Huawei threat without ban

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with US representatives as talks come up fast against a March 1 deadline. POOL  AFP  File  Andy Wong

UK security chiefs: Huawei risk in 5G can be contained

"Our review of the right policy approach to 5G security and resilience is still ongoing".

The report will include recommendations on how to respond to Chinese espionage risks from Huawei to 5G networks, according to a source cited by the FT.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, speaking last weekend in Germany, urged European allies to take seriously "the threat" he said was posed by Huawei as they look for partners to build the new 5G mobile networks.

Whatever risk Huawei's work on national 5G infrastructure may bring, it can be managed and mitigated, the UK's top security body has said.

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While Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei from providing equipment for their 5G networks, the NCSC's conclusion would "carry great weight" with European leaders.

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Still, three of Canada's partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group - the United States, Australia and New Zealand - have forbidden the use of Huawei products in 5G network development, though the USA ban is limited to government agencies - at least for now.

If Britain gives Huawei a cautious green light, it will allow Canada room to make an independent decision, said Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert who teaches at the University of Ottawa.

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Huawei, along with another Chinese network equipment company ZTE Corp, has been accused by the U.S. of working at the behest of the Chinese government.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in December and faces possible extradition to the United States. It will be up to the country's government to decide whether to take the NCSC's advice on board.

Robert Hannigan, former head of the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), the United Kingdom signals intelligence agency, recently wrote in the FT that blanket bans on Chinese tech companies like Huawei make no sense.

The report, which quotes two unnamed NCSC sources, notes that the body believes there are ways to ensure the UK's infrastructure is protected, months after a government study suggested Huawei's processes didn't offer enough oversight.

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