Tech giants from China like TikTok and Huawei have donated tens of thousands of pounds to a parliamentary group, sparking calls for a review of lobbying rules to MPs and peers
Chinese firms Huawei and TikTok are among big tech firms bankrolling MPs and peers. More than £400,000 has been donated to a parliamentary group set up to explore technology issues since 2019.
The money went to the influential Internet, Communications and Technology all-political parliamentary group.
The cross-party group, which has 21 MPs and peers, is said to be the largest of hundreds set up to explore policy issues. These are often targeted by lobbyists and corporate donors seeking to influence government policy on behalf of big business.
They rely on donations and benefits-in-kind to fund their operations, which have to be published in a register. Last night the group said Huawei was not “currently” involved or donating.
But anti-corruption charity Transparency International UK called for a review of lobbying rules.
Policy manager Rose Zussman said: “It’s astonishing that the rules allow companies with such close ties to foreign governments to bankroll these groups and gain privileged access to the legislature.
“They leave the door wide open to foreign interference in our democracy.”
Cyber-security expert Anton Dahbura added: “I am concerned about potential conflicts of interests.
“It should be a very easy decision for government officials to refrain from accepting funds from TikTok and Huawei.”
China’s role in our technology infrastructure is under scrutiny over security concerns. Huawei 5G equipment is being stripped from networks and TikTok’s parent company has denied user data goes to Beijing.
A Huawei spokesperson said: “Huawei is an independent, employee-owned company and these small, historic donations were made in full transparency and in line with all relevant regulations, alongside many well-known businesses from the UK and around the world.”
TikTok said its donations had always been “transparently declared”.