back to article Huawei wins approval to plonk £1bn optical comms R&D facility in UK's leafy Cambridgeshire

Chinese comms bogeyman Huawei has won approval to build a £1bn optoelectronics R&D facility in South Cambridgeshire, UK, near the leafy village of Sawston. Huawei's new campus will be situated on 500 acres of land acquired by the company in 2018, and will feature over 50,000 square metres of office space. When operational, the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given the reality shone on China recently...

    Why is this allowed - who does this benefit the most - China or the UK?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

      Depends if UK offered a subsidy. Assuming they didn't then its a commercial enterprise and both will benefit.

      If it's like the Foxconn's Wisconsin plant, Scott Walker was so desperate for the deal, he gave China's Foxconn $4.8 billion subsidy on the claim of 13000 jobs but the actual written promise of only 3000. So $1.6 million per job.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn%27s_Wisconsin_plant

      Curiously Scott Walker is also the chair for Trumps reelection. Which is odd no?

      You'd like to diss China here, but it seems to me that China wouldn't offer Trump his quid-pro-quo kickback (see Bolton's book) to do the trade deal, but Mexico got a deal slightly more favorable trade deal to replace NAFTA with, so I wonder what Mexico gave Trump for the quid-pro-quo there. It makes China slightly less scummy than Mexico.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

        It gets better -- as of this April, the Foxconn plant in Eau Claire, Wisconsin was still empty.

        Yep. No jobs there. Scott Walker appears to have "the Trump touch" at dealmaking.

        https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/12/21217060/foxconn-wisconsin-innovation-centers-empty-buildings

        1. Captain Hogwash
          Coat

          Re: Scott Walker appears to have "the Trump touch" at dealmaking

          I guess the sun ain't gonna shine anymore.

          1. My other car is also a Trabant.

            Re: Scott Walker appears to have "the Trump touch" at dealmaking

            It's still shining from the usual orifice. Sorry, OCR fail, that word isn't quite "shining".

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Why is this allowed?

      Right question, wrong context.

      Why does this campus have to be on leafy green fields? Isn't there a derelict car factory in Birmingham or Swindon that can be demolished and built over?

      1. devdave

        Re: Why is this allowed?

        It isn't exactly a green field today. It is going to be at the old office supplies factory. https://goo.gl/maps/hqnrUhQ5QNYtCcQE7

      2. You aint sin me, roit

        Re: Why is this allowed?

        It's a brown field site, previously occupied by the Spicers stationery company.

        The leafy bits, according to the ecological impact report, will benefit from the development.

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

          Re: Why is this allowed?

          Ah, thanks for the map link. I rashly believed what I read in the article. I will go and self-flagellate for a bit.

      3. Glen 1 Silver badge

        Re: Why is this allowed?

        "...derelict car factory in Birmingham..."

        fewer than you might think.

        Longbridge (Rover) was flattened and redeveloped years ago.

        Large parts of the former inner city factories (which are now cheap-ish offices and lockups) are either being flattened for HS2, or will have their rents raised to match somewhere (just about) commutable from London.

        1. NeilPost Bronze badge

          Re: Why is this allowed?

          Same with Peugeot Ryton - derelict for years now a warehousing Park.

          Same with JLR Brown’s Lane - a warehousing Park inc Amazon

          Same for Alvis Retail Park - retail park inc B & Q, Morrison’s etc

          Massey-Fergusson Banner Lane, now a housing estate development

          Add Coventry to your shit-list of former vehicle hubs. Only JLR Head Office and London Taxi left.

      4. NeilPost Bronze badge

        Re: Why is this allowed?

        If they don’t want it... I’m sure Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh) would be happy to have it on their business rearch campus. They had a thriving shiny new Optoelectronics Dept when I was there 30 years ago.

    3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

      Why is this allowed

      It's a local planning issue, sod all to do with the UK national government, and even less to do with a US trade war disguised as security concerns. South Cambs liked the application so said yes. That's local democracy for you.

    4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

      It reallsy does not matter a jot. Trump won't let a bit of soil be turned on this project.

      He is waging a war trade against China. He won't be happy with his fellow New Yorker (Bojo).

      This project will never come to fruition as long as Trump is in the White House which might be long after Jan 2021.

      I think that there is a good description for this.

      Welly Wangling

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

        Trump won't let a bit of soil be turned on this project.

        Don't be daft. Trump may think he's God, but he's got nothing on a local councillor in full pomp.

        Also, it's welly wanging. No 'l'(*).

        (*) Christmas starts early these days.

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

          >Don't be daft. Trump may think he's God, but he's got nothing on a local councillor in full pomp.

          The control happens behind the scenes. I daresay there's a bit of John Deere earthmoving kit involved or something. You just threaten sanctions against the contractors, Nord Stream II style.

          Trump's vendetta aganst Huawei is hurting US businesses but he and his crew aren't smart enough to understand how supply chains work. I just hope we can get rid of them before they do too much damage.

    5. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

      > who does this benefit the most - China or UK?

      China.

      UK people typically don't realise just HOW outstanding a job Cambridge has done over the last 30yrs of creating a local research precinct for tech+IT+IPgenerally. I didn't really twig till working with some founders there, and the entire fantastic results were all down to hard, expensive, and organised local govt + uni support + funding. Then looked around and discovered the sheer size/scope of it. And what's coming out is outstanding. Hats off to them, major hats off.

      What has China got MAJOR caught-red-handed form for, regarding other countries' unis' IP? Fleecing it under false pretences.

      What has Huawei been caught red-handed for? Fleecing. Huawei actually have a longstanding formal written policy rewarding employees for the economic value of IP they've personally stolen. Monthly payments, monthly awards, and big quarterly mass presentations to the Top 3 each quarter. (Documents leaked last year/year before.)

      And as to where this tactic slowly progresses to? Look to Australian unis, who've had an extra 20-30yrs head start. I was quite startled on walking back in to discover a Chinese CCP Propaganda unit was not just on campus but had taken over a chunk of the main and historical buildings, kicking out the Law Department who'd been there since inception. Last year, one Aussie student organised a little demo in the Great Court (20 people) in support of Hong Kong. Over 300 Chinese thugs turned up, surrounded them screaming abuse and shouting over the top of them, and physically punched a number of them, hard enough to knock them down. Most witnesses noticed the ringleaders were all wearing military-style radio earpieces. The uni bureaucracy is heavily indoctrinated --the vice-chancellor actually recently discovered to be formally on their payroll-- and so the response was not to call the police re the attackers, but to formally exclude (eject from the university) the HK protest student. He's currently appealing but it doesn't look good.

      Do not underestimate the power of the False Face is tricking trusting people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

        I've worked for a few tech companies around Cambridge, and one often-overlooked aspect of Cambridge's success is the scientific consultancies - Technology Partnership, Generics, and especially Cambridge Consultants Ltd. They provide plenty of jobs for (cheap, young) graduates, and also spin out plenty of companies for said graduates to move over to after a few years, making space for newer, cheaper graduates. And then bigger companies see the talent, and range of people for hire, and move in, and the tech hub grows.

        None of the companies I've worked for have had significant government funding, or from the uni either, but all have had ex-CCL people involved as founders.

      2. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

        Your provision of cheap fast broadband.

        You know that cabinet down the road with the "Super Fast Fibre Enabled Here" sticker on it, well theres some lovley bits of Huawei kit in it that convert the signal from that copper/Alu to your house to the lovely electro-optical fibre, that goes back to the exchange, Tripling that broadband speed.

        the more research they do in the UK, the more likley we have our own industry built around it, supplying better and faster kit to the core of our networks, allowing better quality, faster, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, AppleTV, BritBox or whatever, and lightm=ning fast download speeds with no lag....

    6. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

      By about a million % it benefits the UK more than China. And it's in the Cambridgesphere because that is the UK's high tech corridor, of course. It's where the skilled staff are. (It's also one of the strongest Remain voting areas, which shows that it's a much better location for an international company than any brownfield site in the Brexit heartlands. Don't imagine that Brexit is over...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Given the reality shone on China recently...

        Sawston is in the Cambridgeshire South constituency I think, which was clear Leave, as was neighbouring SE Cambs. Cambridge city was an island of Remain in a sea of Leave.

  2. DavCrav Silver badge

    "As yet, it's unclear whether this new development will soften hearts in Westminster – cash always helps – allowing it more unfettered involvement in the UK's networks."

    I thought that link under 'cash always helps' would be to a Desmond-Jenrick story, since we are talking about how money talks in planning decisions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only if you are a former-pornographer-Conservative-party-doner.

      1. terrythetech
        Coat

        Boy, that is a weird kebab!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Dirty Desmond is more a sandwich kind of guy.

    2. Dr. Vagmeister

      Yes, they don't want to give money away to the marxists (London Borough of Newham), but happy to take it from the Communists.

      Any IP, patents, i assume will be owned by Huawei.

      1. You aint sin me, roit
        Facepalm

        Who would you suggest should get the patents for privately funded research?

        1. Dr. Vagmeister

          It is a response to the usual lack of long term thinking of the UK government, and current UK industry.

          Why don't Huawei continue researching on their own as per their massive campus in China ?

          We used to have world leading research in the UK in the optical area, but this has declined severely.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Why don't Huawei continue researching on their own as per their massive campus in China ?

            One reason is to avoid groupthink. That's one of the reasons I was employed as a researcher by the US Navy in spite of the fact I lived and worked in the UK.

  3. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Devil

    This will go well with our 'allies' (sometimes) in the US.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      I presume it's mostly to have some leverage against automatically becoming the 51st State. It allows us to suggest we'll go with China if the US don't limit their demands of us and grant us some of what we want, and we won't have burned our bridges if it does turn out we can't survive with the America First deal the US actually offers.

      It's standard 'play one off against the other' fare.

      1. First Light

        That would be 52nd state, after D.C.

        1. Glen 1 Silver badge

          D.C. is not a state. Deliberately so no state could claim to have the capital.

          Also, didn't one of the territories recently hold a referendum to become a state? It would be a shame if they were being taxed without representation... (not that I have any knowledge of the territories' current arrangements)

  4. Vasten_the_Barelegged

    I know...

    ...that this not be nothing to do with their networking, but we've just got a Huawei Magicbook for my wife. The price is remarkable, the build excellent (aluminium chassis), the design very impressive and the specs pretty good. If this is the type of thing Huawei are producing, no wonder there is pushback against them. The competition must be unwelcome, and some seem to find it unacceptable.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: I know...

      Easy to achieve if you don't need to pay for any of the hard R&D

    2. Barry Rueger

      Re: I know...

      Phones as well

      Just really nice, well manufactured devices. I'd buy Huawei again in a flash.

  5. Ramis101

    Yet another green-belt build vanity project

    I live very near to Cambridge and the last thing we need is more Building/people/cars Please just NO.

    This could easily be built on a existing brown-field site, but no Cambridge sounds waaay cooler

    .....Paved paradise & put a parking lot....

    1. You aint sin me, roit
      Facepalm

      Re: Yet another green-belt build vanity project

      It is a brown field site.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Yet another green-belt build vanity project

        Cambridge turned down IBMs application to build it's european research lab there in the 50/60s - because it would spoil the neighbourhood

        The lab was built in Switzerland and won a bunch of Nobel prizes.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Well at least any kit made by Huawei in the UK will have had some attention paid to it at minimum by someone working for British security whether official or not.

    I am sure Huawei knows that and so do our allies, if kit is clean and there is still shouting about security, it will be clear that they are taking about economic security.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Well at least any kit made by Huawei in the UK will have had some attention paid to it at minimum by someone working for British security whether official or not.

      The Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre in Banbury is a formal collaboration between Huawei and GCHQ that has existed for 5 years. Its entire point is so that we can be sure about what Huawei's kit does.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "Its entire point is so that we can be sure about what Huawei's kit does."

        And we know it's sloppily coded shit. With the other vendors, we just have to guess that's sloppily coded shit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Really?

          I've evaluated the code from Huawei, Juniper and Cisco, from a defence supplier point of view [and for completeness Fastpath, but that code is more niche and properly hardened, so I'll not mention them again].

          Sure, they could all refactor their code, Huawei probably the most, but it's not terrible code per se.

          The Huawei code was probably the easiest to trace from RFC right through to code and back. Both Juniper and Cisco had "WTF are they doing here" sections of code, but they were eventually resolvable. Both Juniper and Cisco had ITAR sections that I, as a Brit, was not allowed to see and none seemed related to missing RFC functionality i.e. they were extra functionality. Huawei, just had the one version of code - nothing was hidden and there didn't seem to be anything surplus to requirements that I found.

          There are multiple places that have performed the analysis, including GCHQ, and no-one has yet to report finding any backdoors or other weaknesses in the Huawei code. The real shame is that we can't openly speak about the findings in a properly structured manner - secrets; trade and official, etc.

          1. tip pc Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            "I've evaluated the code from Huawei, Juniper and Cisco, from a defence supplier point of view"

            how do we know your not just saying that to get people on Huawei's side?

            1. StickThatInYourPieHole

              Re: Really?

              Oh no! Somebody who likely has more knowledge and insight than myself into the matter but has a different view. I know, i'll question their motives.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Really?

              "how do we know your not just saying that"

              because Jake wouldn't be able resist not posting anon.

              Anon, because it was a cheap shot.

          2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Really?

            But all that is irrelevant, cos if we want to export Dutchy Original Shortbread to the Land of the Orange one - we need to hate Huawei

  7. CambsNimby

    It's a Semiconductor Fab on a brownfield site.

    Check out South Cambs District Council planning application S/0158/20/FL . The planning approval is for a small scale semiconductor fab with supporting services and a smaller office building. Its on a brownfield site that used to be Spicer's stationery factory - remember 'Red & Black' notebooks ?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leafy Sawston!

    Leafy Sawston? You're 'aving a laff

  9. Sparkus

    Prediction?

    Unidentifiable antenna complex on the roof, dedicated fiber connections to CCP-owned off-shore cable systems, 'secret' rooms inaccessible to other than a select few..................

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternate headline...

    "Fox buys chicken coop!"

    Sub-head:

    Offer for the whole farm can't be far behind.

  11. Check

    Do we really want to do business with a CCP controlled company that has positioned itself there to "Borrow" research from other Cambridge studies.

    We should be investigating the links and spies that have in our country instead of allowing them build a base of operation.

  12. Barry Rueger

    In a post-Snowden age is there any doubt that the US government hasn't also "positioned itself there to "Borrow" research from other Cambridge studies" while maintaining "links and spies that allowi them to build a base of operation."

    '

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