A review of the proposed takeover of a Newport company by a Chinese company has not been launched, despite the Prime Minister’s assurance that he had commissioned such a report. Concerns have been raised over the takeover of Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia, a company linked to the Chinese Communist Party, over fears it could jeopardize national security.
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee reports that the Prime Minister said he had commissioned such a review but “in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the assumption is that the review of the Security Adviser national has not started”. You can read the background to the agreement here.
In July 2021, Boris Johnson said he asked his national security adviser to review the purchase. Speaking to MPs on Parliament’s Liaison Committee, Johnson said: “I think semiconductors are of huge importance to this country, and one of the things I wanted to look at immediately when I became Prime minister was whether or not we can become more self-sufficient.. We have to judge that what they are making has real intellectual property value and real interest for China, if there are real security implications .”
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The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, MP Tom Tugendhat, said: “We are apparently handing over critical security infrastructure to foreign companies with well-documented ties to the Chinese state. He added: “So few details were provided to the Committee, that we are left with the unfortunate conclusion that no review took place. Today, the Committee is asking the Government to clarify why the Prime Minister has requested a Newport Wafer Fab review and why this review has not started.
Newport Wafer Fab is one of the nation’s largest semiconductor manufacturers. Newport Wafer Fab employs 470 people and Nexperia is 100% owned by Chinese technology company Wingtech. The UK government has said semiconductors are essential to UK national security and wider global interests, but the sale of one of the UK’s most valuable assets to a strategic competitor is raising concerns .
A report released today by the committee says it wants an update and to know the circumstances in which the National Security Adviser is engaged in reviews under the National Security and Investment Act or business laws; why the Prime Minister asked the National Security Adviser to undertake a review of Newport Wafer Fab; why the national security adviser did not conduct such a review.
Mr Tugendhat said: “For over a year, the Committee has expressed concern over the takeover of semiconductor maker Newport Wafer Fab. The National Security and Investment Act has been in place for over three months. , but we have seen no evidence of its use.
“Semiconductors are essential to all aspects of modern life and Newport Wafer Fab is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers. Their takeover by Nexperia has left many wondering why we are apparently divesting the infrastructure of critical security to foreign companies with well-documented ties to the Chinese state.
“Our nation’s long-term security rests not just on our armed forces, but on the resilience of our economy, which means that our future stability is never sacrificed for short-term progress.
“The Prime Minister’s assurances that work is in progress are welcome. However, so little detail has been provided to the committee, we are left with the unfortunate conclusion that no review has taken place. Today, The committee is calling on the government to clarify why the Prime Minister has asked for a review at Newport Wafer Fab and why that review has not started The government has the tools, it just needs to use them.