Calls for inquiry as Huawei 'infiltrates' Cambridge research centre

Huawei ‘infiltrates’ Cambridge: Calls for inquiry into Chinese tech giant’s links to three out of four directors at university research centre

  • Reports suggest Cambridge Centre for Chinese Management has ties to Huawei
  • Three of four directors and its chief representative have known links to company 
  • Chinese tech giant is been banned from UK’s 5G network over security concerns 

Chinese tech firm Huawei has ‘infiltrated’ a Cambridge University research centre, critics have claimed.

There are calls for an ‘urgent inquiry’ into the UK’s dependency on China as it is revealed three out of four of the directors at the Cambridge Centre for Chinese Management (CCCM) have ties to Huawei.

According to the Times, the CCCM’s chief representative is also a former senior Huawei vice-president who has been paid by the Chinese government.

The university insists that one former Huawei executive has never delivered services to the centre while the firm itself has said any suggestion of impropriety is absurd.

Critics have claimed that the Huawei ties is demonstration that the university has allowed the CCCM to be infiltrated by the Chinese company which has been banned from joining Britain’s 5G network.

Johnny Patterson, policy director of the Hong Kong Watch campaign group, told the newspaper the university should investigate the relationship between Huawei and the CCCM.

Critics have called for an inquiry after it has been revealed that three of the four directors at the Cambridge Centre for Chinese management have ties to Huawei. Pictured: Peterhouse, the oldest college at Cambridge University which is near where the Chinese centre is based

Meanwhile, Ian Duncan Smith described Cambridge University as ‘one of the worst offenders’ when it came to relying on money from China.

He told the Times that British companies and universities had grown ‘far too dependent on Chinese money’ in recent years and added: ‘The government needs to urgently set up an inquiry into the UK’s dependency on China across a range of institutions and companies.’ 

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who is head of the China Research Group and chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, told the newspaper: ‘Perceived academic influence is clearly an issue and just as universities would never take money from tobacco companies to investigate links with cancer so institutions need to be very careful about where they accept their money.’

Earlier this year, it was revealed that 20 leading universities collectively accepted more than £40million in funding from China.

The Cambridge Centre for Chinese Management forms part of the university’s judge business school and describes itself as ‘an academic research institute dedicated to the study of the management practices and strategies of Chinese enterprises’.

The centre’s website describes how its ‘chief representative in China’ is Yanping Hu who is a former senior vice president at Huawei.

Chinese tech giant Huawei is banned from the UK’s 5G network amid security concerns

The Times reports that in response to a freedom of information request, Cambridge University said that Hu ‘is not currently and has never provided anything towards or delivered any services to Cambridge Judge Business School or the Cambridge Centre for Chinese Management’.

The newspaper claims additional references to Hu were removed from the website after their enquiries were made.

The centre was founded by Prof Christopher Loch, Prof Peter Williamson, Dr Eden Yin and Tian Tao who is described on the site as a senior adviser for Huawei Technologies.

The site also describes how he has written a book on the company titled Huawei: Leadership, Culture, and Connectivity which analyses the company’s growth.

According to the Times, Williamson has written articles for Chinese state papers and backed Huawei when critics have hit out at the company.

Meanwhile Yin, who , co-authored a paper with Tian, Huawei: How Can We Lead The Way?

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith (pictured) has previously accused Jesus college at Cambridge University of becoming a ‘mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party’

Huawei said: ‘We are incredibly proud of our relationships with UK universities and any suggestion of impropriety is absurd and demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of academic partnerships with businesses from around the world.’

The university is facing mounting scrutiny over its ties to China with Jesus College being found to have taken a £155,000 grant from Huawei and later ruled positively on the telecom giant. 

The college also received a £200,000 grant from the Chinese government in 2018.

In July, it was reported that a professor at the college said students should avoid discussions of human rights abuses in China because it would lead to ‘unhelpful’ and ‘contentious’ outcomes. 

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has since accused the college of becoming a ‘mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party’.

An estimated 1 million people or more – most of them Uighurs – have been confined in re-education camps in Xinjiang in recent years, according to researchers. 

Chinese authorities have been accused of imposing forced labour, systematic forced birth control and torture, and separating children from incarcerated parents.

Earlier this year, the Chinese Research Group found that twenty leading UK universities have collectively accepted more than £40 million in funding from Huawei and selected state-owned Chinese companies in recent years.

The research found that Imperial College London has accepted between £3.5million and £14.5million from Huawei while the company gave £1.1mimllion to Lancaster University for research.

York University and King’s College London were also among the institutions to receive money from the Chinese tech giant.

Cambridge University has been contacted for comment. 

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