Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer, has appointed the former CEO of government body UK Trade and Investment as chairman of its advisory board in the country.
The appointment of Sir Andrew Cahn, who stepped down from his UKTI post at the end of last year, comes soon after the company made its first major sale in the UK, a deal with Everything Everywhere to upgrade its 2G network.
In April, Huawei announced that it will double its UK workforce this year to 500.
Cahn achieved notoriety in January 2011, when the Daily Mail claimed he had encouraged Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff to spend the department’s budget to make sure it was renewed.
On his departure for the role, Cahn was roundly praised by coalition ministers. "Sir Andrew played a key role in facilitating high-level trade missions abroad, including the Prime Minister’s recent visits to India and China," a press release from UKTI said at the time.
Huawei has proved controversial in the US, where a number of acquisitions have been blocked, obsentsibly on national security grounds. The US government has said that the company "maintains close ties" to the People’s Liberation Army of China, while Huawei has challenged the US government to investigate its claims.
Seemingly to pre-empt similar concerns in the UK, Huawei set up a Cyber Security Evaluation Centre in Oxfordshire, where potential customers can assess the security of its technology.
As well as seeking to expand in the UK, Huawei aims to grow its enterprise business. Enterprise revenues are expected to double this year, the company said in March. It is also said to be building a cloud computing business, selling both public cloud services and the equipment required to construct cloud environments.
In related news, members of a Chinese spiritual movement have filed a civil lawsuit on Thursday against Cisco Systems, accusing it of co-operation with the Chinese government’s censorship of political opposition.
The suit accuses Cisco of aiding the Chinese Communist Party with the design, supply and maintenance of its "Golden Shield" Internet surveillance system. It claims Cisco’s actions aided Chinese authorities in carrying out crimes against humanity, prolonged detention, torture and killing.
Cisco denies the accusations. "Cisco does not operate networks in China or elsewhere, nor does Cisco customise our products in any way that would facilitate censorship or repression," a company representative said in a statement on Friday.