“The degree of interconnectedness between nations, peoples and systems today, the ubiquitous nature of information, and the exponential pace of technological change, are making the world dramatically more complicated. This complexity has eroded the boundaries we have traditionally relied upon for our security: the boundaries between virtual and real, the domestic and the international, between states and non-state actors and between war and peace. The result is a world of far greater ambiguity. I want to be clear: our adversaries did not create this ambiguity and they did not create the things that divide us.”
MI6 Chief Alex Younger — St Andrews University (December 3 2018)
For his second public speech in his four years as MI6 chief, Alex Younger returned to St Andrews University, Scotland, where he studied economics and computer science as an undergraduate. Answering a question from the audience, Younger expressed concerns over Chinese technology companies being involved in the UK’s communications infrastructure. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
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MI6 boss Alex Younger – known as “C” – is a career spy who has worked in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) for more than 20 years. He was appointed as the new head of MI6 in October 2014 when replaced Sir John Sawers.
Mr Younger was asked about the role of China in building new 5G communications networks.
Younger believes that Britain needs to decide how comfortable it is with Chinese ownership of these technologies.
“We have got some decisions to take here,” Mr Younger said.
“We need to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken a quite definite position.”
“We need to have a conversation. It’s not wholly straightforward.”
“With 4G there are specific modes of technology and we developed a very good understanding with Huawei of where we were able to monitor and look at that aspect of their offer.”
“That is impossible with 5G where the technology is at the edge of the network and spread out very unevenly.”
“This is a nontrivial issue. It’s one that needs to be worked on through dialog.”
UK telecom companies have been asked to examine resilience in their supply chains and the government is to decide on next steps following the end of a review period in March 2019.
A ban would come as a blow to Britain’s biggest telecom companies, including BT Group PLC, which have given Huawei an important role in their planned 5G networks.
The United States, Australia and New Zealand have already blocked Chinese company Huawei from supplying equipment for its 5G mobile network.
The U.K. has already barred Chinese telecoms provider ZTE Corporation, but a decision regarding Huawei has yet to be made.
Huawei oversight board is known to be staffed by former Chinese intelligence officers.
5G — MI6 Alex Younger Questions China’s Role in UK Mobile Network