Chinese networking goliath Huawei announced plans today to build a $200 million (£125 million) research and development (R&D) centre in the UK as part of a £1.2 billion investment in the country.

Huawei said the centre, to be built at a currently unknown location, will focus its research on optoelectronics, device design, software development and other fields.

Currently, Huawei employs over 80 R&D engineers in its existing UK R&D office in Ipswich. However, the company said it will employ a total of 300 staff in high-tech R&D positions in the UK by 2017.

The company has 15 offices across the UK and 890 employees - including a UK headquarters in Reading that opened in April

The new R&D centre was announced as chancellor George Osborne visited the Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, south-east China. Earlier this week Osborne said he welcomed investment from the Chinese networking giant to Britain

A number of the tech companies on the delegation already work with Huawei, including BT, who used Huawei's equipment when upgrading its infrastructure a decade ago. 

BT's decision to use Huawei was heavily criticised by the influential Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. One of the main concerns surrounding the suitability of using Huawei as a provider for the UK’s national infrastructure is that questions remain as to whether it has backdoors built into its equipment that could be used by the Chinese government to spy on the UK.

Osborne said: "One of the most exciting opportunities for collaboration between Britain and China in the next step of our relationship is between our cutting edge, high-tech companies. So I am delighted to be visiting Huawei's headquarters with leaders of some of Britain’s most entrepreneurial tech companies to welcome Huawei's investment into the UK."

Ren Zhengfei, Huawei founder and CEO, said: “The UK is home to some of the best high-tech professionals in the world. Their creativity is a major asset to our R&D efforts, helping us produce the most advanced and competitive telecoms and broadband services available. Combined with an open and free-trade economy, this makes it a very good investment environment for Huawei. I have every confidence in Huawei's future in the UK.”