British lawmakers grilled a Huawei executive on the company’s defense practices in a hearing on Monday as the U.K debates what role the Chinese tech giant will play in building out 5G networks around the world.
In a hearing about Britain’s telecommunications industry in the House of Commons, John Suffolk, Huawei’s global cyber security and privacy officer, secured the firm as “independent,” stating it would not bow to force to provide information from its mobile networks to the Chinese government.
“No one can put us under stress,” he stated. “We’ve made it quite lucid, regardless of who the country would be. If we were put under any pressure by any country that we felt was wrong, we would prefer to close the enterprise .”
The U.K . is debating whether or not to allow Huawei to supply software and equipment for next-generation 5G wifi networks. 5G promises super-fast speeds and low lag times, probably transforming industries from driverless cars to health care.
The Trump presidency has put Huawei on a blacklist and has urged allies, including the U.K., to ban Huawei, saying the company’s equipment could open a backdoor for Chinese spying.
U.S. officials point to a Chinese law that appears to require domestic companies in China to assist the government in intelligence gathering when the Communist Party in Beijing requests it. Huawei has repeatedly refused it might take part in any kind of spying.
Asked about the law by British members of parliament on Monday, Suffolk denied Huawei would be required to join hands with the Chinese government, a claim questioned by many security experts.
“There are simply no laws in China that obligate us to work with the Chinese government on anything whatsoever,” he claimed.
Huawei products are already used in existing wireless networks across the U.K. A report from the British government in March found Huawei had failed to address security concerns, stating its software and equipment poses “significant” security risks. But the record failed to link security concerns with Chinese state intervention.