Ex-MI6 head Richard Dearlove urges 'reset of whole China relationship'

Ex-MI6 chief Richard Dearlove urges ‘reset of whole relationship’ with China amid claims Huawei is pushing Boris Johnson not to ditch its technology from the UK’s telecoms network until AFTER the next election in 2024

  • Boris Johnson is expected to U-turn on allowing Huawei role in 5G network
  • Ex-MI6 chief Richard Dearlove urged ‘reset of the whole relationship’ with China
  • Claims Huawei is pushing to delay removal of tech from UK telecoms to 2025 

The UK is looking at a ‘reset of its whole relationship’ with China amid growing tensions, a former head of MI6 said today. 

Sir Richard Dearlove insisted the government should be more ‘assertive’ in its interaction with the Asian superpower.

Amid mounting signs that Boris Johnson will announce a U-turn this week on Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network, Sir Richard said the firm is an ‘intimate part of the Chinese state’.

The comments came amid claims the company has been urging the PM not to ditch it from UK telecoms infrastructure until after the next election in 2024, reportedly in the hope that a new government could take a different stance. 

Ministers are considering whether to axe Huawei amid fears the network could be used for spying by the Chinese state.  

The comments came amid claims Huawei has been urging the PM not to ditch it from UK telecoms infrastructure until after the next election in 2024

Sir Richard Dearlove told Sky News the government should be more ‘assertive’ in its interaction with the Asian superpower

A recent intelligence report said the security implications were ‘severe’ and that US sanctions on the firm may make its equipment less reliable and safe.

There are also calls from dozens of Tory MPs to strip Huawei’s technology from the wider telecoms network by 2024, and cut involvement in building nuclear power plants. 

Sources told the Sunday Times that Huawei wanted the government to delay the removal of its technology from telecoms infrastructure until at least 2025, in the hope that a future government might reverse the decision. 

As part of the compromise, Huawei would reportedly pledge to maintain its equipment, which is also used in the UK’s other non-5G networks.

BT and Vodafone have warned of coverage blackouts if the kit is stripped out too quickly.

A poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, conducted on Wednesday, found 52 per cent would approve of dropping Huawei from 5G, including 28 per cent who felt ‘strongly’ on the issue.

Just 12 per cent disapproved of the idea, although a substantial 36 per cent did not say either way.   

Speaking on Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday, Sir Richard said: ‘We are looking really at a reset of the whole of our relationship with China’s leadership.’ 

He insisted the UK should become ‘more assertive’ with China as the country has become ‘more aggressive’.

Asked if the Government will change its mind on allowing Huawei a role in the building of the UK’s 5G network, Sir Richard said: ‘That’s certainly my expectation…

‘The problem is we have had a close relationship with Huawei dating back, I think, to the year 2000, so getting Huawei out of the systems can’t be done rapidly – it will have to be done cumulatively over time.

‘But it looks to me now as though the Government have changed their view.

‘There’s a technical aspect to this because since the American embargo on Huawei was imposed it’s not clear that they’re going to be able anyway to provide the 5G equipment on which the system will depend.

A poll for MailOnline found 52 per cent would approve if Boris Johnson cuts Huawei out of the massive 5G project

‘I’ve always believed that there is a strategic security reason for not allowing the Chinese that degree of involvement in the construction of our critical infrastructure.’

He added: ‘I think the relationship between the Chinese state and Huawei is absolutely clear-cut.

‘Huawei is not a sort of ordinary international telecommunications company, it’s an intimate part of the Chinese state.

‘And if you know anything about Chinese military strategy, they talk about the fusion of civil and military capabilities.

‘There is a close linkage undoubtedly between the Chinese military capability and Huawei.’ 

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