China is accused of rigging a test of 5G mobile equipment in a campaign to discredit Western rivals of its embattled telecoms champion Huawei.

Whitehall and industry sources said Beijing is feeding secret details of security vulnerabilities in new network kit to a team of IT specialists.

More than 100 computer security experts are conducting a security test of 5G equipment, from makers including Huawei and Western rivals Nokia and Ericsson, in which hacking techniques are used to check for weak spots. The ostensibly legitimate exercise is part of planning for 5G and its leap forward in speed and data capacity in the world's biggest mobile market.

However, British officials and industry sources tracking the tests allege they are being rigged to defend Huawei. It is believed that vulnerabilities discovered by China's secret state hackers have been passed to the 5G testers to ensure Nokia and Ericsson's equipment is found to be unsecure.

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Officials and Western telecoms executives held crisis meetings about the campaign last week.

Although knowledge of the effort is patchy, it is expected that testing will end around June 10, in time for Beijing to use the results to attempt to influence a crucial EU review of 5G security this summer. Two sources suggested China particularly intends to undermine cautionary advice on Huawei provided by British intelligence. Beijing's hacking attack comes after a series of steps to turn China into what one corporate source has called a "hostile environment for non-Chinese telecoms firms". Ericsson's office in the Chinese capital was raided by state investigators last month over complaints of intellectual property infringement. It denies any wrongdoing.

The steps signal further escalation of the tech trade war between Washington and Beijing, in which Huawei has become the top target for the US.

American security agencies have threatened to review intelligence sharing with their UK counterparts, vital collaboration that dates back to the Second World War, if the Government allows mobile operators to use Chinese equipment to build 5G networks.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that a delegation of officials from across Whitehall is due to fly to Washington this week, as President Donald Trump visits the UK, to discuss what exemptions may be available. The likes of Vodafone and BT claim that a total embargo on Huawei would hold back investment in vital digital infrastructure.

Officials and Western telecoms executives held crisis meetings about the campaign last week.

Although knowledge of the effort is patchy, it is expected that testing will end around June 10, in time for Beijing to use the results to attempt to influence a crucial EU review of 5G security this summer. Two sources suggested China particularly intends to undermine cautionary advice on Huawei provided by British intelligence. Beijing's hacking attack comes after a series of steps to turn China into what one corporate source has called a "hostile environment for non-Chinese telecoms firms". Ericsson's office in the Chinese capital was raided by state investigators last month over complaints of intellectual property infringement. It denies any wrongdoing.

The steps signal further escalation of the tech trade war between Washington and Beijing, in which Huawei has become the top target for the US.

American security agencies have threatened to review intelligence sharing with their UK counterparts, vital collaboration that dates back to the Second World War, if the Government allows mobile operators to use Chinese equipment to build 5G networks.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that a delegation of officials from across Whitehall is due to fly to Washington this week, as President Donald Trump visits the UK, to discuss what exemptions may be available. The likes of Vodafone and BT claim that a total embargo on Huawei would hold back investment in vital digital infrastructure.

As the tech trade war escalates, the boss of Britain's biggest independent microchip company told The Sunday Telegraph that the electronics industry would have no choice but to side with China against the US.

"Everything is made in China, and in Asia," said Jalal Bagherli, chief executive of Dialog Semiconductor. "For electronics and chip companies I don't think we have a lot of choice. It's not like we would pick China to work with, but we just don't have a choice. It's just where everything is made."

Mr Bagherli's comments come a week after Mr Trump added Huawei to a trade blacklist. Although its latest measures superficially apply only to American companies, the complex global technology supply chain means the impact has been broader.

Cambridge-based chip maker ARM, for instance, has urged employees to suspend interactions with Huawei.

Dialog has not said whether it needs to sever ties with Huawei, although Mr Bagherli shrugged off the risk, saying the Chinese giant "creates products in Holland, in Germany and the UK, and we manufacture in Taiwan – they don't fall under the regulations".