Published: Thu, November 29, 2018
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

Huawei 5G bid rejected by New Zealand over national security

Huawei 5G bid rejected by New Zealand over national security

"Huawei is seeking an urgent meeting with the relevant ministers and officials to understand the government's position and get clarification of the process from here", Huawei's New Zealand deputy managing director Andrew Bowater said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

The two nations have a free-trade agreement and China's Foreign Ministry said it hoped "New Zealand will offer a level playing field for Chinese enterprises operating in New Zealand".

Australia also raised objections to the use of Huawei equipment for its new 5G mobile network infrastructure.

But the company said in a statement it's confident it can still launch its 5G network by July 2020.

Australia banned Huawei and another Chinese firm, ZTE, from participating in its 5G network in August.

Huawei suffered a setback in the US market in 2012 when a congressional report said it was a security risk and warned phone companies not to buy its equipment.

Under New Zealand law telecoms companies must inform security services of certain changes to their networks.

If Spark did attempt to address the GCSB's concerns, the GCSB would then have to decide whether to refer the matter to the Minister responsible for GCSB, Andrew Little.

Yesterday afternoon, Spark pre-empted the government and GCSB by announcing the security agency's finding, and saying it could not now use Huawei gear for its pending 5G upgrade to its mobile network.

"The director-general has informed Spark today that he considers Spark's proposal to use Huawei 5G equipment in Spark's planned 5G RAN would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks", Spark said.

Carriers are concerned that a Huawei ban would leave only Ericsson and Nokia able to bid into 5G rollouts, which would make the builds more expensive.

"It is a Chinese company, and under Communist law they have to work for their intelligence agencies if requested", said one of the Australian government sources. Along with the US, Australia, and some other countries, now New Zealand has also joined the club.

Huawei has already been practically blocked out of the USA market after six top USA intelligence chiefs, including the CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee last February that they would not advise Americans to use products or services from Huawei. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have been exacerbated by its founder's close links to the Chinese military. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported the United States government was trying to persuade companies in allied countries to avoid Huawei.

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