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Huawei and 5G — [Ian Paisley in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:43 am on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 10:43 am, 4th March 2020

As I said, we are introducing the new regime because of some of the concerns that my hon. Friend addresses. I reiterate the Government’s offer to put at the disposal of any Member of the House as many experts from the public and private sectors that we can, so that colleagues can be in touch with the latest thinking on this issue.

We understand the threat from China and are robust with it when our interests are challenged. We will continue to publicly call out malicious cyber-activity, and the decision to categorise Huawei as a high-risk vendor took into consideration the potential links between Chinese companies and the Chinese state, including the fact that Chinese companies are subject to China’s national intelligence law. The UK has also been vocal in drawing attention to the systematic human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China. The Government have set out our expectations of businesses in the UK national action plan on business and human rights.

The telecoms supply chain review, which was laid before the House in July 2019, underlined the range and nature of the risks, highlighting the risks of dependence on one vendor, faults or vulnerabilities in network equivalence equipment, the back-door threat, and vendors’ administrative access. We need to be alive to the totality of the risks that the telecoms network faces today and will face in the future. High-risk vendors are part of that security risk assessment, but they are not the sole factor.

I want to address some of the myths about how the network will develop. It is true that technical characteristics of 5G create a greater surface area for potential attacks, but it will still be possible to distinguish different parts of the network. As my hon. Friend Ruth Edwards said, what matters are the critical functions within the network. We need to ensure that critical functions, wherever they are, have appropriate security.