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Huawei UK board members resign over silence on Ukraine invasion

Knights depart Chinese mega-corp's round table

Updated Multiple reports have surfaced claiming that two members of Huawei's UK board have resigned over the company's stance – or lack thereof – on Russia's illegal invasion of the Ukraine.

Board members Sir Andrew Cahn and Sir Ken Olisa allegedly told the company on Wednesday they are leaving their non-executive director roles.

Cahn, former CEO of UK Trade and Investment, became a non-executive director in 2015 after four years as chairman of the Huawei Technologies UK advisory board. Olisa, whose many distinguished roles include serving as Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, became a director in 2018. Their beef allegedly is that Huawei has not publicly condemned the ongoing war – though it should be noted the Chinese company typically does not comment on political issues.

China is one of 35 countries that chose to abstain from a vote on a United Nations resolution denouncing Russia's "aggression". The resolution called for an immediate unconditional withdrawal of military forces from the Ukraine.

Huawei's relationship with and services to Russia have been questioned in the past few weeks. Australian defence minister Peter Dutton has stated he is aware of reports that Huawei "is providing support to Russia to keep their internet up and running" as it comes under attack from hacktivists and other entities.

Huawei told The Reg:

Sir Andrew Cahn and Sir Ken Olisa brought considerable experience from the world of business and technology to Huawei UK's board of directors when they were appointed in 2015 and 2018 respectively.

Both have shown strong support for Huawei's commitment to the UK and have helped uphold the highest standards of corporate governance and we thank them for their invaluable guidance.

Cahn and Olisa aren’t the only ones (allegedly) stepping away from Huawei. Polish footballer Robert Lewandowski, who plays for Bayern Munich, also terminated his three year $5.45m commercial deal with the tech giant for the same reasons. ®

Updated to add

Olisa told The Register this morning: "I can confirm that I have resigned from the Board of Huawei (UK) and that the media reports of my departure are correct. These are difficult times for all multinationals and I don't intend to exacerbate the situation by making any further comments on this matter."

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