The UK’s former cyber security chief has raised the alarm over the sale of a Welsh microchip manufacturer to a Chinese-backed company.
Ciaran Martin, the former chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said the purchase of Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia, a Dutch subsidiary of the Chinese company Wingtech, poses a greater threat to British interests than Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network.
Boris Johnson has asked national security adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove to look at the deal, worth a reported £63m, while MPs have called on ministers to intervene.
But, Charles Smit, a board member and general counsel at Nexperia, told the BBC earlier this week: “We’re not owned by the Chinese state, the Chinese state is not involved in Wingtech.”
Sky News has contacted Nexperia for comment.
Mr Martin, who was chief executive of the NCSC until last August, described the future of microchip supply as a “first order strategic issue” for the government to get a handle on.
He was part of the NCSC when it altered its security assessment of equipment manufactured by Huawei, with the firm eventually excluded from the UK’s rollout of 5G on security grounds.
“Huawei in the periphery of 5G only really mattered because the Trump administration became obsessed with it for reasons they never convincingly set out,” Mr Martin told The Daily Telegraph.
“By contrast the future of semiconductor supply is a first order strategic issue. It goes to the heart of how we should be dealing with China.”
His comments come after the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee called for tougher action to stop strategically important companies being sold overseas.
The cross-party group of MPs said the UK’s “sovereignty should not be for sale” and called for the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab to be formally called in for review.
“Appropriate mitigation measures” should be introduced by ministers, they also said.
“Our fiercest competitors, notably China, have a track record of using foreign investments to gain access to important technologies and information,” committee chairman and Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat said when the report was released.
“We’ve witnessed too many of our country’s brilliant tech firms disappear abroad with potentially significant economic and foreign policy implications.”
Faroe Islands pledges review of dolphin killing regulations after uproar over record slaughter | World News
The Faroe Islands has said it will review regulations governing its tradition of hunting dolphins after widespread uproar over the killing of more than 1,400 from a “super pod”.
Campaign group Sea Shepherd released footage showing hundreds of dead animals lying on a beach, while others were herded into shallow waters by boats and jet skis.
The footage showed the water turn red as people killed the dolphins with knives for their meat and blubber.
Further out to sea, the fjord boats formed a barrier to stop the Atlantic white-sided dolphins from swimming away.
Sea Shepherd, which is based in the US, described the hunt as “brutal”, with the graphic footage leaving many viewers from around the world shocked and calling for action.
The Sea Shepherd Faroe Islands Campaign Facebook page wrote: “We are sharing with you 10 minutes of unedited footage. We are doing this so you can grasp the reality of what happened yesterday.
“Because while the Faroese newspapers have been busy reporting on the reactions to the hunt all through the day, there has been no proper covering of the actual illegalities and brutality of the hunt.
“What will it take for the locals to demand a shut down of all hunts of this sort?
“We believe it takes a good honest look at the truth.”
The Faroe Islands has defended its decades-long tradition of chasing dolphins or whales towards the shore and slaughtering them on beaches.
The slaughter has been a part of the archipelago’s tradition since the ninth century, and the meat and blubber are shared within the community.
However, the government said the latest catch had been “extraordinary” due to the size of the pod, and it would look into regulations around the tradition.
It said the catch was a record – on average around 250 dolphins and 600 pilot whales are caught each year in Faroese waters, it added.
“We take this matter very seriously. Although these hunts are considered sustainable, we will be looking closely at the dolphin hunts, and what part they should play in Faroese society,” Prime Minister Bardur a Steig Nielsen said.
Regin Jacobsen, one of the Faroe Islands’ largest farmed salmon exporters, condemned the slaughter as “totally unacceptable”.
The Bakkefrost CEO said his firm was not involved in the hunt and none of its assets were used.
Afghanistan: Taliban replaces women’s ministry with ‘vice and virtue’ ministry – as schools reopen for boys | World News
The Taliban has replaced Afghanistan’s women’s ministry with an all-male “vice and virtue ministry”.
The new ministry is tasked with enforcing the group’s extreme interpretation of Islam.
Officials at the ministry told the Associated Press they had not been informed whether a new women’s ministry is being planned.
The new Taliban ministry of education’s announcement did not mention when girls may be able to return to classes, even in gender-segregated settings.
It said state and private schools at primary and secondary level, as well as official madrasa religious schools, will open from Saturday.
“All teachers and male students should attend school,” the statement said.
It comes after staff from the World Bank’s $100m (£72m) Women’s Economic Empowerment and Rural Development Programme were escorted off the grounds of the old ministry by the Taliban in Kabul.
Sharif Akhtar, a programme member who was escorted out with his staff, said he could not say how or if the programme could continue.
Most educational institutions remain closed across Afghanistan, more than a month after the Taliban seized Kabul.
Girls up to the sixth grade have managed to attend some schools and women have gone to university classes, but high schools for girls have been closed.
The Taliban has said it will not replicate the fundamentalist policies of the previous Taliban government, which banned girls from education.
Girls will be able to study as long as they do so in segregated classrooms, the group has said.
Although the Taliban’s leaders have not ordered schools to close, they have said the security situation means many activities for women and girls are not yet possible.
Meanwhile, a series of explosions targeted Taliban vehicles in the capital of Nangarhar province.
The three explosions left at least three dead and 20 wounded.
While no one immediately claimed the attack in Jalalabad, the Islamic State affiliate group ISIS-K, which opposes the Taliban, has its headquarters in eastern Afghanistan.
Also on Saturday, a sticky bomb exploded in the capital, wounding two people, police said.
AUKUS: Maintaining West’s unity will ‘require a lot of effort’, German official says, as France rages over nuclear submarine deal | World News
Maintaining unity between Western allies will “require a lot of effort” in light of an unfolding rift between France and members of a new security partnership, Germany’s ambassador to the UK has said.
Andreas Michaelis was responding to France recalling its ambassadors to the US and Australia, after the latter’s government ditched a multi-billion dollar deal with Paris for new nuclear submarines and decided to instead buy ones made with US technology.
The response to the cancelled agreement – resulting from something that has been dubbed the AUKUS partnership, between Australia, the UK, and US – has been described by Sky’s security and defence editor Deborah Haynes as “one of the gravest rifts among allies in living memory”.
The new 🇩🇪 government to be elected on 26/9 will be faced with important strategic discussions. The AUKUS debate illustrates this vividly. 🇩🇪 has always aimed for coherence&unity of the West. It became part of our DNA during the Cold War. This unity will require a lot of effort. https://t.co/nmNEwk6hYP
— Andreas Michaelis (@GermanAmbUK) September 18, 2021
It comes as Germany’s long-standing chancellor, Angela Merkel, is due to be replaced next weekend by whoever wins federal elections.
Mr Michaelis, referencing Deborah Haynes’ Sky News analysis, said on Twitter: “The new German government to be elected on 26/9 will be faced with important strategic discussions.
“The AUKUS debate illustrates this vividly. Germany has always aimed for coherence&unity [sic] of the West. It became part of our DNA during the Cold War. This unity will require a lot of effort.”
The decision to pull out its representative in the US, outlined last night by foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on the orders of President Emmanuel Macron, was the first time France has ever recalled its American ambassador.
He said the cancellation by Australia of the big contract to buy French conventional submarines in favour of nuclear-powered subs built with US technology was “unacceptable behaviour”.
It means France loses a nearly $100bn Australian dollars (£47bn) deal to build diesel-electric submarines.
Australia said on Saturday morning it regretted that France was recalling its ambassador, adding that it valued the relationship with France and would keep engaging with Paris on other issues.
A US State Department spokesperson said France was a “vital ally” and the United States would be engaged in the coming days to resolve the differences.
A French foreign ministry statement did not mention the UK, but a diplomatic source said France believed Britain’s joining of the deal was opportunistic.
The AUKUS partnership is part of a new strategic Indo-Pacific alliance between the US, Australia and Britain, US President Joe Biden announced last week.
French President Emmanuel Macron has so far not commented directly, but on Friday a top French diplomat spoke anonymously of a “crisis” in relations with the US.
He said that for Paris “this is a strategic question concerning the very nature of the relationship between Europe and the United States about the Indo-Pacific strategy”.
He added that Australia never mentioned to France its wish to shift to nuclear-powered submarines, including during a meeting between Mr Macron and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The French diplomat said that Mr Macron received a letter from Mr Morrison on Wednesday morning announcing the decision to cancel the submarine deal.
After the deal was announced, Mr Le Drian told franceinfo radio it was a “brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision” reminiscent of the sort of actions Donald Trump would take.
He said: “I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies. It’s a stab in the back. We created a relationship of trust with Australia, and that trust has been broken.”
The “landmark” UK, US and Australia partnership aims to boost defences and share nuclear submarine secrets at a time of growing concern over China.
China has condemned the agreement, saying the Western powers’ cooperation in nuclear submarines “severely damages regional peace and stability” and “jeopardises the international efforts in promoting the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”.
London, Canberra and Washington have said they will seek to collaborate in cyber, quantum technologies and artificial intelligence, as well as other underwater capabilities.
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