LONDON: Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, controversially involved in Britain’s 5G network, announced Thursday that it had received UK permission to build a research and developement centre in Cambridge, eastern England.

It will invest £1.0 billion ($1.2bn, 1.1bn euros) under a first phase to build the global headquarters for its business dealing with opto electronics — “a key technology used in fibre optic communication systems”, it said.

“The UK is home to a vibrant and open market, as well as some of the best talent the world has to offer,” Victor Zhang, vice president of Huawei, said in a statement announcing the project in Cambridge, which is world-renowned for its university.

“It’s the perfect location for this integrated innovation campus.” Zhang added: “Ultimately, we want to help enshrine the UK’s leading position in opto electronics and promote UK tech on a global scale.” Huawei said the first phase would create around 400 local jobs.

“This investment will be a major boost for high-tech development in the region, helping to further cement Cambridge as a global innovation hub.” Huawei, which employs 1,600 people in the UK, has won the backing of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to build next-generation 5G mobile networks in Britain.

Washington has pushed hard for countries to bar Huawei from building their 5G networks, claiming its equipment can be used to spy for Beijing.

Huawei is meanwhile also funding a new multi-million pound technology hub at Imperial College London.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2020