IT is the Chinese whisper that keeps echoing louder and louder through the English-speaking world’s intelligence alliance.

For months cybersecurity agencies in America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have been warning against letting international Telecoms equipment giant Huawei provide technology for the next generation of mobile internet, 5G.

Why? Because Huawei is headquartered in Shenzhen, and could, agencies like the CIA believe, become a kind of digital Trojan horse for Chinese spies and hackers in the West.

The UK has now signalled it will let Huawei provide some of its tech. At least that was what the The Daily Telegraph suggested on Wednesday in a front-page news story. Some intelligence observers suggested this could mark a split between Britain and four of the other “Five Eyes”, America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

UK officials were quick to say any final decision would be announced at Westminster, not in the papers. But the director GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, at a rare public speech said engineering is more important than the country behind the technology, otherwise known as its “flag of origin”.

Speaking at CyberUK, a major conference organised by the Natioan Cyber Security Centre, in Glasgow, Mr Fleming said: “A flag of origin of 5G equipment is important but it is a secondary factor.

“It’s a hugely complex strategic challenge, going to span the next few decades. How we deal with it will be crucial for our prosperity and for our security.”

The US has banned Huawei from its government networks and urged the other nations in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance - the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada - to do the same.

There were signs of a softening of the American stance on Huawei at CyberUK as - for the first time in the UK all Five Eyes stared out from a public stage.

Rob Joyce, of US National Security Agency, said what really mattered was “what is a sensitive network”. British officials made it clear that defending sensitive networks was not just about where hardware was bought.

After all, the technology for a gaming network and a secret government project may not be different. Encryption and other solutions may be more important.

Five Eyes officials put on a united front in Glasgow, agreeing that sometimes they had to call out state actors who were behind hacking or election interference, not least the big four: Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

Huawei has denied having ties to the Chinese government, but critics question how independent any large Chinese company can be, with a legal obligation on firms to co-operate with the state.

Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat said opening the door to Huawei “would cause allies to doubt our ability to keep data secure”