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Limits Of The Free Market - The Huawei 5G Deal

by Chauncey Tinker – 29 Jan 2020

The US Government has been showing grave concern over the recent decision made by Boris Johnson’s government to allow the Chinese Telecoms giant Huawei to play a part in the creation of the UK’s 5G infrastructure. From Breitbart:

Huawei Fallout: US Secretary of State Flies to UK Over 5G Decision

Nigel Farage drew our attention to the extent to which the British establishment has become entwined with Chinese businesses:

Of course Huawei is getting an easy ride. The British establishment has been bought up by China


… what is astonishing is the extent to which members of the establishment have become so intertwined with Chinese businesses, usually for personal gain, that legitimate concerns about our sovereignty and national security have been ignored.

Our attention was drawn to some of those connections:

Lord Browne, Chairman of Huawei UK

According to the Telegraph, Lord Browne came under pressure last year:

Lord Browne under pressure to reconsider Huawei board role as firm faces US criminal charges

From the UK government website, a press release from 2014:

Lord Browne to stand down as government’s Lead Non-Executive Director

More information from Chatham House:

Lord Browne of Madingley


Senior Adviser, Chatham House; Chairman, L1 Energy; Chairman, Huawei UK

He is the former chief executive of British Petroleum, he resigned in 2007 in the wake of a news article about his private life. Curiously, Huawei is not currently mentioned in his Wikipedia page even though he is the Chairman of Huawei UK:

John Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley

Sir Andrew Cahn, Non-executive director of Huawei

The Taxpayers’ Alliance published this in 2011:

UK Trade & Investment head Sir Andrew Cahn throwing our money out of the door

Quote from an email:

“The FCO is heading for an underspend and wants to get money out of the door. If we can spend money in this financial year on a one-off basis, then we can have at least £1million. Can you think of what we might do with such money.”

From Civil Service World:

Interview: Former UK Trade & Investment chief Sir Andrew Cahn – “The lack of Brexit planning was a humiliation for this country”

He wanted the UK to remain in the EU, and says he was miserable on the day after the referendum.

John Suffolk, Senior Vice President and the Global Cyber Security & Privacy Officer

John Suffolk was a Chief Information Officer in Cameron’s government. He was questioned by a parliamentary committee last year. From the Register:

No backdoor, no backdoor… you’re a backdoor! Huawei won’t spy for China or anyone else, exec tells MPs

The questioning in the committee seemed to point to the conclusion that there is simply no way to know if vulnerabilities exist in the hardware and software that is being introduced. As pointed out by one expert who was interviewed, the first objective any technology spy would have would be to make a vulnerability look like a simple mistake. Given that “mistakes” have been identified in Huawei’s software in the past (it’s quite normal in the industry for this to occur), it’s quite possible that some of the “mistakes” were introduced accidentally on purpose.

When Mr. Suffolk was interviewed by the committee he was asked about a Huawei project called “Safe Cities” (@16:06 onwards):

[Questioner:] You will be aware of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute report that stated that Huawei’s products have often been deployed in countries with poor records of political stability, rule of law, corruption, and it also stated that public security technologies have created a range of political and capacity problems, including alleged corruption, missing money, and opaque deals, operational and ongoing maintenance problems, and alleged national security concerns.

Mr Suffolk responded by effectively saying that the law of each country was whatever the government of that country decided it should be, and that Huawei’s policy was to operate within the law in any given country. The Questioner then asked (@16:10):

If Huawei co-operates with the Chinese government on state surveillance in China, particularly in Xinjiang Province, to what extent can it resist pressure from the Chinese government to enable surveillance abroad?

Following Mr Suffolk’s responses, one Questioner accused him of being a “moral vacuum”.

This is an article from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute:

5G choices: a pivotal moment in world affairs


It is disappointing that the Brits are doing the wrong thing on 5G, having not exhausted other possibilities. Instead they have doubled down on a flawed and outdated cybersecurity model to convince themselves that they can manage the risk that Chinese intelligence services could use Huawei’s access to UK telco networks to insert bad code.

The institute was set up by the Australian government in 2001 according to the About page at the above site.


China executes more people each year than all the other countries in the world put together. In light of China’s appalling human rights record, my own conclusion is that there is simply no way we should be doing any dealings with a Chinese company that may for all we know be deliberately introducing security vulnerabilities into our communications network.


From ABC News:

China tops world execution list but true number of killings remains a mystery

From the Telegraph:

Which countries executed the most people last year, and why?

From the UK Government, the full committee hearing mentioned above (the interview with John Suffolk starts at 16 minutes in):

Science and Technology Committee

From the Epoch Times

Huawei ‘Safe City’ Systems Are Ineffective, Crime Figures Show

The above article claims that countries including Pakistan that have installed the surveillance systems have found themselves burdened with heavy debt and faulty cameras.

Strangely this next article from the BBC almost reads like an advertisement for the Huawei technology, and is starkly at odds with the other above sources:

A better connected world


Leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solution provider Huawei is a leader in the field of ‘smart city’ solutions, which make use of a web of inter-connected devices, software and cloud storage systems to enable public and private services to work together more efficiently.

We will be asking more questions about the BBC in due course.


The Limits of the Free Market – National Security


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