Charles Moore Charles Moore

The grand names on Huawei’s payroll

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Why is it wrong, some ask, for senior British businessmen, former civil servants etc to work for Huawei UK? After all, it is a major company which needs business experience and advice here. Even now, despite the government’s apparent U-turn, it is not certain it will be excluded from our 5G contracts. Surely the answer is that if a director were to explain frankly to the public how Huawei works, he would have to admit that — whatever its formal ownership structure — it is controlled by and furthers the aims of the Chinese Communist party regime. He would also have to concede that these aims have now become hostile to British and western interests. Ren Zhengfei, the boss, expresses himself in belligerent terms. Yet the chairman, Lord Browne, and directors such as Sir Andrew Cahn, the former head of UK Trade and Investment, and Sir Mike Rake, former president of the Confederation of British Industry, try to deflect all this. Sir Ken Olisa is another board member but, as Lord Lieutenant of London, he is also the representative of the Queen. Is he not conflicted? Sir Simon Fraser, as head of the Foreign Office, was the most senior civil servant in charge of British interests abroad. Retired, he is paid at Flint Global to advance Chinese ones (via Huawei) here. So is his business partner, Ed Richards. As chief executive of the communications regulator, Ofcom, Mr Richards had to uphold its code, which includes human rights (especially freedom of expression), fairness, ‘due impartiality and due accuracy’, privacy, religion etc. He must know that China fails on all these counts, yet he takes the Huawei money. The only cheering thought is that China, misled by its traditional respect for age, has appointed the wrong people. Almost every one of its grand names is an elderly Remainer, unlikely to open the right doors in post-Brexit Britain.

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