The lead story on the front page of today’s Sunday Times (behind the paywall) proclaims “China gives £50 million aid for Olympics” and reports that:
“A Chinese company is offering Britain £50 million of ‘aid’ to put in a free mobile phone network in time for the Olympics.
Huawei, one of the worlds biggest telecoms equipment firms, is presenting the offer for the London Underground as a gift from one Olympic host nation to another.”
This proposal has the support of Mayor Boris Johnson.
However, as the Sunday Times warns:
“The offer has been made only two years after intelligence chiefs warned that China could have the capabilityto shut down Britain by bringing down its telecoms and utilities systems.
They raised fears that equipment already installed by Huawei in BT’s network could be used to cripple vital services.
A deal would see Huawei, which has close military links, install mobile transmitters along the ceilings of tunnels so that commuters can make and receive calls for the first time while travelling underground.”
I have been concerned about Huawei for some time. We are breath-takingly complacent about the vulnerability of our critical national infrastructure and – particularly in the current economic climate – there seems to be no appetite from the Government to prevent huge chunks of it falling into foreign hands.
This is potentially another example – aided and abetted by Mayor Boris Johnson.
Not all Tories are so relaxed (and Mayor Johnson has a reputation for being very relaxed!): Patrick Mercer MP has pointed out:
“… it absolutely answers a terrorists’ prayers to be able to detonate devices on the Underground. … It has been proven that a proportion of the cyber attacks on this country come from China. I wonder when the eyes of the world are upon us whether there is sense in using a Chinese firm to install a sensitive mobile network.”
These are serious matters and a serious London Mayor should not complacently give his support, presumably he hopes that if his eyes are firmly closed and his fingers are crossed that it will all be OK.