Newport Wafer Fab: Former cyber security chief raises the alarm over sale of Welsh microchip maker to China-backed Nexperia | Politics news
The former UK cyber security chief has sounded the alarm over the sale of a Welsh microchip maker to a China-backed company.
Ciaran Martin, the former executive director of the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), said Nexperia, a Dutch subsidiary of Chinese company Wingtech’s acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab, posed a greater threat to British interests than Huawei’s involvement in 5G Network.
Boris Johnson has asked national security adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove to look at the £ 63 million deal while MPs have urged ministers to intervene.
But Charles Smit, board member and general counsel at Nexperia, told the BBC earlier this week: “We do not belong to the Chinese state, the Chinese state does not have a stake in Wingtech.”
Sky News has approached Nexperia for a comment.
Mr. Martin, who was chairman of the board of directors of the NCSC until August last year, described the future of microchip supply as a “first-order strategic problem” that the government needed to get under control.
He was part of the NCSC when it changed its security rating of devices from Huawei, with the company eventually banned from rolling out 5G in the UK for security reasons.
“Huawei on the periphery of 5G only really mattered because the Trump administration was obsessed with it for reasons it never convincingly set out,” Martin told The Daily Telegraph.
“In contrast, the future of semiconductor supply is a strategic issue of the first order. It goes to the heart of our dealings with China.”
His comments come after the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee called for tougher measures to stop selling strategically important companies overseas.
The bipartisan group of MPs said “UK sovereignty should not be for sale” and called for the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab to be formally called for review.
“Appropriate mitigation measures” should be initiated by ministers, they also said.
“Our fiercest competitors, China in particular, have a track record of leveraging foreign investment to gain access to critical technology and information,” said committee chairman and Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat when the report was released.
“We have seen too many of our country’s brilliant tech companies disappear overseas, with potentially significant economic and foreign policy repercussions.”