Huawei yesterday announced it was investing $2 billion in Britain – the same day that Britain announced it was investigating the Chinese firm’s relationship with a telco. The telecoms giant with links to the military back home has not had a good week on the other side of the Atlantic, with the U.S. calling it a security risk to its face, and Canada merely hinting at it.
This is undoubtedly a difficult moment for the British PM, David Cameron. He met Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s boss and founder on Tuesday, and the firm’s investment in the U.K., which is expected to create around 700 jobs over the next five years, is sorely needed. Indeed, the firm is one of several tech monsters shovelling money into Britain’s new 5G Innovation Centre, announced earlier this week. However, with the current slew of espionage rumours whirling around, there’s more than a whiff of ‘damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t’ about the PM’s next step.
Huawei had offered to kit out the London Underground with free Wi-Fi in time for the 2012 Olympics, but the deal fell through in 2011 due, in part, to the antiquated nature of the Tube.