Huawei expected to get approval for UK R&D centre

Bangkok, Thailand - May 27, 2018: Asian woman using social media application on Huawei P20 pro smartphone, pointing at facebook app. Illustrative Editorial content.
Bangkok, Thailand - May 27, 2018: Asian woman using social media application on Huawei P20 pro smartphone, pointing at facebook app. Illustrative Editorial content.

Huawei is expected to receive the green light this week to build a facility in the UK, The Times reported, where it will conduct research in fields including photonics and data communications.

The site is in Sawston, seven miles from Cambridge. Huawei paid £37.5m ($46.3m) for the 550-acre plot in 2018.

South Cambridgeshire District Council is due to decide on the first phase of the build on 25 June and has already been advised to approve the Chinese giant’s application, The Times said.

The news comes as the UK reviews Huawei’s involvement in the country’s 5G network rollout, even after agreeing in January to allow the company’s equipment to play a limited role.

Concerns have been raised over its close ties to the Chinese state. 

Critics – in particular, the US and some Tory MPs – have claimed Huawei’s equipment could be used to spy on people and governments in the West. Huawei has repeatedly denied these allegations.

READ MORE: UK asks telecom providers to stockpile Huawei gear

“Announcements like this R&D centre are clearly designed to influence the debate and they shouldn’t be allowed to influence it,” The Times quoted former first secretary of state Damian Green as saying.

“The government calls Huawei a high-risk vendor and I want to see a path towards zero involvement from Huawei in the 5G network.”

Meanwhile Huawei told the publication: “We are investing in new technology, and an important part of our commitment to the UK is our proposed new R&D centre in Cambridge.”

Earlier it was reported that UK officials wrote to the country’s mobile operators, asking them to ensure they have plenty of Huawei equipment as they fear US sanctions could disrupt the Chinese company’s ability to maintain supplies.

READ MORE: German foreign minister doubts Huawei can be trusted as 5G supplier