CHINESE HARDWARE FIRM Huawei will invest £124.7m in a UK research and development centre, and the UK government has welcomed the news.
Chancellor George Osborne is on a short working vacation to China and while there has been tweeting favourably about his experience and the companies he meets.
The chancellor is not travelling alone and said that he is taking some industry executives with him. On his diary today is a trip to Huawei, a firm that he described as a giant.
"Heading to Shenzhen tomorrow to visit Chinese tech giants Huawei and Tencent," he said yesterday. "Visiting @Huawei HQ with founder Ren Zhengfei. Massive telecoms equipment making firm today confirming new R&D centre in UK," he added this morning.
We did a search for Huawei and the UK government and recalled that the last time we covered them the UK government was investigating the security of Huawei's network hardware and services.
Today in a statement the UK Treasury practically whooped with excitement at the numbers involved. As well as Huawei, it has secured investment from Rekoo, a Chinese social gaming firm.
"China's internet giants - Huawei and Rekoo - confirming the UK's status as a world centre for digital innovation," it said.
"Huawei have confirmed plans for a new $200m R&D centre in the UK as part of their [$2bn] investment commitment to the UK. Currently, Huawei employs over 80 R&D engineers in its existing UK R&D office in Ipswich. They will now employ a total of 300 high-tech R&D positions in the UK by 2017."
In July Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) questioned Huawei's security in a report.
It claimed that the firm's Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, called the Cell, could not provide enough proof that it is protecting UK telecoms, and might be leaving them vulnerable to cyber attack.
"The UK government has been able to leverage Huawei's reputational concerns to encourage it to invest in the Cyber Security Evaluation Centre and become more transparent about its equipment and business practices," read a government statement at the time.
"This is a significant achievement. However, we question why the Cell is only now approaching full functionality, over seven years after the BT contract was awarded."
Huawei said that it was happy to work with the government in improving security. "Huawei shares the same goal as the UK government and the ISC in raising the standards of cyber security in the UK and ensuring that network technology benefits UK consumers," it said in a statement. "Huawei is open to new ideas and ways of working to improve cyber security."
Before then, in October 2012, we asked Huawei for comment on government concerns that it's heart is with China and the People's Liberation Army. It told us that it was well used to talking to government about security and procedures.
"We have been subject to UK government scrutiny and procedure since we opened our first office here in 2001," it said. "We have regular contact with the UK government and welcome all discussions and questions."
In a speech to students at Peking University, Osborne said that the UK government is happy with the firm's reputation.
"Take your great high-tech company, Huawei," he said. "There are some Western governments that have blocked Huawei from making investments. Not Britain. Quite the opposite." µ
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