Chinese ambassador labels Huawei backlash a ‘witch hunt’

Liu Xiaoming says ‘only problem people have is they are a Chinese company’

Credit: Han Yan/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The Chinese ambassador to the UK has blasted Tory MPs’ backlash over Huawei as “totally wrong” and a “witch hunt”.

Liu Xiaoming defended Boris Johnson’s move to allow the tech giant to build parts of the UK’s 5G network as in the interests of the UK and a “good decision”.

The prime minister has faced a wave of criticism from his own party for green-lighting the contract despite security concerns and the company’s alleged links to the Chinese government.

On Saturday a group of senior Conservatives, including four ex-cabinet ministers, wrote to Downing Street saying they want “high-risk” vendors to be ruled out now, or phased out over time.

But Liu rejected the accusations, adding the privately owned firm has “nothing to do” with the Chinese state.

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Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “I think they are totally wrong, I think what they are doing is kind of a witch hunt. Number one, Huawei is a private owned company, it is nothing to do with the Chinese government. The only problem they have is they are a Chinese company and that’s the problem…

“China has run a market-orientated economy…Huawei is an independent company, and they are the leader in this area. And I think the reason why the prime minister decided to give Huawei [a role] is because he has a very ambitious plan for the UK, he wants to have 5G cover the UK by 2025 and Huawei can do that.”

US president Donald Trump is also reported to have been “apoplectic” on a phone call to Johnson venting his anger over the decision he, and other Five Eyes partners such as Australia, warned against.

But Liu added: “I always say Britain can only be great when it has its own independent foreign policy, so I do hope the prime minister stays with his decision.” 

The top diplomat also criticised the UK government’s decision to limit Huawei’s involvement to “non-core” on the British infrastructure project.

“We are not 100% satisfied,” he added.

“I think it’s a good decision, but I think the 35% cap does not show your principle of free economy, free competition.”


Sam Trendall

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