Decision on Chinese telecoms firm comes as national security concerns mount in the west

The University of Oxford has placed an indefinite ban on accepting research grants or donations from the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei, which is facing mounting concerns from several governments about whether it poses a risk to national security.

The decision emerged the day after the US prosecutors reportedly opened an investigation into Huawei for alleged theft of trade secrets from American firms. Berlin is also reportedly weighing up measures to exclude the company from working on the rollout of 5G mobile infrastructure in Germany.

Oxford said its ban on Huawei funding was linked to “public concerns raised in recent months surrounding UK partnerships with Huawei”.

The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, and MPs on the foreign affairs select committee have voiced fears about the company’s role in 5G.

“We hope these matters can be resolved shortly and note Huawei’s own willingness to reassure governments about its role and activities,” Oxford said. “The university will continue with existing research contracts where funding from Huawei has already been received or committed.

“We currently have two such ongoing projects, with a combined funding from Huawei of £692k. Both projects were approved under the university’s regulatory processes before the current levels of uncertainty arose.”

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