The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has reportedly directed telecom firms to stockpile networking gears sold by Chinese firm Huawei in the wake of US trade sanctions.
British officials fear that the Chinese equipment maker may not be able to maintain critical supplies and to provide updates for its equipment while facing a trade ban from the US.
In May, the US government announced new measures to limit Huawei's ability to use US software and technology that the Chinese firm needs to make 5G equipment and advanced smartphones. British officials are currently reviewing the impact of these sanctions on Huawei and its customers. The new sanctions, which are due to come into effect in September, would force the company to seek other options, supposedly from China.
According to Reuters, NCSC sent a letter British telecom operators last week, directing them to maintain adequate stock of supplies from all vendors, with special reference to Huawei.
"Ensuring that products and components are kept up-to-date is essential to maintaining the security of networks," the letter said.
In a statement, Huawei vice president Victor Zhang said that customers are top priority for Huawei, and that the company is working to ensure that business continuity is maintained.
"We strongly oppose politically-motivated actions by the US that are designed to damage our business and are not based on evidence," Zhang added.
Earlier this year, Boris Johnson's government granted Huawei a limited role in its 5G networks, although the Prime Minister is currently under pressure to limit Huawei's involvement in telecoms infrastructure.
A number of Tory MPs are pushing the government to review UK's relations with Beijing amid accusations that Beijing did not disclose the true scale of the coronavirus after first cases emerged in the country in December last year.
Some Conservative MPs are also demanding the government to remove Huawei equipment and technology from Britain's 5G network.
Huawei has long been accused by the US of aiding spying efforts by the Chinese government by creating backdoors into network infrastructure.
Last May, President Trump signed an executive order blocking US firms from purchasing foreign equipment that could pose threat to the national security.
Last month, it emerged that UK government is planning to cut the role of the Chinese firm in British 5G infrastructure to zero by 2023.
Some mobile operators fear that move could prove highly expensive for them and might also result in delaying 5G rollout in the UK.
In April, Huawei urged the UK to avoid reversing its position on allowing the company to build part of its ultrafast 5G network, warning that such move could do a "disservice" to Britain.
In an open letter, Zhang highlighted the significance of internet connectivity amid the coronavirus crisis and dismissed the criticism of Huawei's participation in UK's 5G plans.
The move follows an alleged attempt by a Chinese state-owned business to take control of the board of British chipmaker Imagination Technologies in April
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Media reports suggested last week that Downing Street was preparing the ground for an outright ban on Huawei