Unite the Union has once again outlined its objections to Vodafone's proposed merger with Three in the UK.

The union has urged the government to question Three's parent company CK Group’s ties to Beijing.

Unite has claimed that such links make any potential deal a threat to the UK's national security.

Feature: The UK’s next big telco merger - Vodafone and Three?

Three UK
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Unite compiled a dossier earlier this week noting its doubts ahead of a deal.

Within this report, Unite claims that senior CK Group executives sit on Chinese government committees and have access to the Chinese political elite.

Unite also notes that the Li family, which controls CK, is a prominent supporter of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing chief executive John Lee. The union also points out that Lee is in favor of the National Security Law (NSL), which gives police the power to monitor telecoms in Hong Kong.

"Domestic laws and internal company policies will do little to hinder the exercise of nation-state intelligence gathering apparatus from leveraging any means of access to data that company mergers and acquisitions might enable," said digital security expert Alexi Drew in Unite's report.

"If a merger creates the technical or human means to collect valuable data, then the security services of any nation-state, Chinese or otherwise, are likely to make use of it."

Unite adds that two of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's MPs are on the payroll of CK Group.

Vodafone UK
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The report names Brandon Lewis and Chris Gayling as two who have worked as strategic advisors for the company in the past.

Sunak's government has met with CK executives on multiple occasions already this year states that report.

"Rishi Sunak and his Conservative Government claim to be willing to take robust action against Chinese threats to national security but when it comes to CK Group and this merger they’re rolling out the welcome mat," said Unite executive head of operations, Gail Cartmail.

“Meetings with CK bosses here and overseas, Tory MPs on the company’s payroll, and a government desperate to avoid democratic scrutiny is a recipe for disaster. Unite will continue fighting to ensure this dangerous merger faces the scrutiny it deserves.”

Unite has been clear in its opposition to the merger from the outset, labeling the deal "reckless" in June, and is urging the government to block any deal being pushed forward.

Vodafone and CK Hutchison's Three agreed to the £15 billion ($19bn) merger last month. The deal will give Vodafone a 51 percent majority stake in the combined entity, currently labeled as "MergeCo," with Three holding the remaining 49 percent.

Unite claims that the deal will lead to increased prices for customers, job losses, and is damaging to the country's national security. It alleges Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison has strong links to the Chinese state.

BT not phased by merger, but wants it to be scrutinized

The merger was also discussed during this year's Connected Britain event in London.

BT Group's chief security and networks officer Howard Watson is adamant that the merger won't be a threat to EE's position.

"In some countries, moving from four players to three players has made capital investment more efficient. More scale, more economically beneficial,” said Watson.

Watson expects the deal to be heavily scrutinized by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.

“I do think the CMA has some big questions to look at here, and we will be asked for comments I’m sure," he added, while also noting EE's shared network infrastructure deal with Three in the UK, plus issues around spectrum.

Vodafone chief network officer Andrea Dona, who was on the same panel as Watson at the event, said that a merger would be good for competition, and enable it to offer an improved 5G service with more spectrum.