A former Conservative Party leader has called on the UK government to investigate the country’s dependency on China as a research center of Cambridge University is alleged to have been “infiltrated” by Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Speaking to The Times of London on Sept. 12, Sir Iain Duncan Smith said universities in the UK are “far too dependent on Chinese money,” with Cambridge being “one of the worst offenders.”
The senior Tory urged the government to set up an urgent inquiry into “the UK’s dependency on China across a range of institutions and companies.”
Smith’s comments come after the newspaper reported that the chief representative and three out of four of the directors at the Cambridge Centre for Chinese Management (CCCM) have ties to Huawei.
The Times reported that the information about Yanping Hu, who was listed as the chief representative of the CCCM, was removed from the CCCM website following inquiries from the newspaper.
A cache of the page, archived on Aug. 17, stated that Hu had been the head of the Huawei Management Engineering Group, director of the Huawei Corporate Change Committee, director of the Huawei Organization Department, and deputy president of Huawei University before becoming the SVP at Huawei.
The Chinese version of the page also stated that Hu is the CEO of Huawei-affiliated Hua Ying Management, which is—along with Huawei and its other affiliates—on a Washington list of entities that “pose a significant risk of involvement in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
The page also boasted Hu’s credential as an “expert who enjoys a special allowance from the State Council.”
Tian Tao, one of the CCCM’s four directors, is a senior adviser at Huawei Technologies and a confidant of Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei.
The Chinese version of the CCCM’s website also stated that it’s the CCCM’s role and “historical mission” to document, synthesize, spread, and contribute to the development and management of Chinese enterprises.
Johnny Patterson, co-founder and policy director at human rights non-governmental organization Hong Kong Watch, said the link between the university and the Chinese Communist Party has serious implications.
“Huawei’s ties with the Chinese government are no secret. It looks as if the research center has been infiltrated by Huawei and the university should definitely investigate it,” Patterson told The Times.
“The close links between Huawei and Cambridge University have serious national security and moral implications.”
A spokesperson for Cambridge University said any relationship the university has is in line with government guidelines.
The CCCM “is a business management programme focused on Chinese business practices. As such, it engages with various sectors of the Chinese economy, including technology companies,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“The University of Cambridge has a robust system for reviewing all strategic relationships and strict protocols for engaging with any company. Any relationship the University has with any corporate entity, domestic or international, strictly adheres to the guidelines set out by the UK government.”
Representatives of Huawei and the UK government didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.