Rishi Sunak is facing calls to get tougher with China by potentially ripping out hundreds of thousands of ‘Chinese smart meters’ which could be allegedly used to shut down UK power supplies.
On the eve of the G20 summit in Indonesia, the Prime Minister was urged to remind fellow world leaders of the ‘enormous threat’ posed by Beijing’s desire to infiltrate other countries’ infrastructure.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said that although the gathering would rightly focus on Ukraine’s struggle, Mr Sunak should not miss the chance to warn allies of the dangers China poses.
And Sir Iain called on the PM to take immediate action at home by halting the installation in UK houses of smart meters made by a firm linked to the Chinese state.
He raised the ‘nightmare’ prospect of the Chinese state shutting down power to hundreds of thousands of households through access to the meter’s remote power switch.
Sir Iain, one of five British MPs singled out for sanctions by Beijing last year, told The Mail on Sunday that the PM should first halt the installation of the meters, made by Kaifa Technology UK, and then potentially replace the ones already installed. He said ‘all smart meters feature a switch that can be used to remotely turn off power’, which in the wrong hands ‘could be abused to inflict mass blackouts and damage the National Grid’.
His call came after the Daily Mail revealed last month that 250,000 meters supplied by Kaifa, controlled by a subsidiary of the state-owned China Electronics Corporation, were already in UK homes.
But experts predict there could be more than three million by the end of the smart meter rollout.
Last month, Michael Wu, head of Kaifa UK, rejected claims that it was seeking to gain credibility in the UK meter market by selling its meters at low prices before hiking them afterwards.
A Government source responded to Sir Iain’s warnings by acknowledging China ‘poses a systemic challenge to our security, prosperity and values’. They added that the PM was committed to updating the 2021 Integrated Review which laid out the threat China posed to the UK’s economic security.