Royal Navy diving contract with Chinese-linked firm is 'maritime version of our 5G'

Royal Navy diving contract with Chinese-linked firm is 'maritime version of our 5G'The Royal Navy diving contract with a Chinese-linked firm is the “maritime version of our 5G”, the Defence Chairman has warned. Tobias Ellwood raised security concerns after JFD, an underwater capability which is a customer of Chinese owned SMD, a supplier of subsea equipment, announced it had been awarded a contract for the management and availability of the Royal Navy’s in-service life-support diving equipment, to help safeguard the lives of divers worldwide. Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said: “It’s the maritime version of our 5G. "We are falling into China’s trap by becoming subservient in so many aspects of our life, including military.” This follows already strained relations with Beijing after Boris Johnson bowed to the demands of backbench MPs in July and banned Huawei from the 5G network, with the agreement to strip out all of its existing infrastructure over the next few years. Huawei is viewed as a security threat because of laws in China that oblige private companies to hand over data to the government if required, and a US embargo on secure American-made chips being sold to the firm has increased the perceived danger. China previously warned that Britain would “bear the consequences” if it treated the country as a hostile provider, and was further disgruntled after Britain offered three million Hong Kong residents a home in the UK following its decision to impose strict security laws on the former colony. Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, said: "Given growing concerns about the aims of the Chinese Communist Party, it seems extraordinary that a company ultimately owned by the Chinese state can be involved in the supply chain for a Royal Navy contract. The British state should be mitigating risks, not taking unnecessary ones." In a statement released by JFD, which has done business with the Royal Navy for more than 20 years, it said that among the equipment suite it will be servicing is its Shadow rebreather, a system designed and manufactured by JFD, as well as provision for recompression chambers, enclosed mine lifting bags (EMLB), parachute lift bags and surface-supplied diving equipment. On its website SMD lists JFD as its customer for its remotely operated vehicles (ROV) systems which are used underwater for submarine rescue, torpedo recovery and range maintenance and distressed aircraft and vessel recovery. Mr Ellwood has previously warned that nuts and bolts from China should not be involved in UK military equipment and earlier this year announced his committee had launched an inquiry into the UK’s defence supply chain. "We need indigenous capabilities and not be at the beacon call of China,” Mr Ellwood said. “They won't attack directly and this affects our ability to have sovereign equipment. "This is the wrong move." It is understood that the Ministry of Defence conducts “thorough checks of all companies” that it does business with.

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