Huawei calls on Govt to explain ban
WELLINGTON: Huawei is again calling on the Government to explain why, following a Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) assessment last year, it has been barred from helping Spark build a 5G data network.
The Chinese company has repeatedly denied suggestions — led by the United States — that its technology could be used by Beijing to spy on other countries.
Huawei was back in international headlines this week after an employee was arrested in Poland on spying charges.
The company sacked the employee and said the alleged activity had nothing to do with it.
Its chief financial officer was also arrested in Canada last month, with documents linking the company to suspected front companies in Syria and Iran.
Huawei New Zealand deputy managing director Andrew Bowater said he had been asking for a meeting with ministers and officials without success.
‘‘We haven’t had any contact from them and they haven’t been able to explain what they believe the risks are,’’ he said.
GCSB Minister Andrew Little said yesterday it was not appropriate for himself or the GCSB to be communicating with the company.
‘‘The GCSB has said, as they announced at the end of last year, that they do consider that there are national security concerns,’’ he said.
‘‘The next step of the process is for Spark to consider — along with the GCSB and its personnel — whether those concerns can be mitigated in any way.
‘‘While that process is under way it’s not appropriate for the GCSB to be dealing with Huawei, or for myself to be dealing with Huawei.’’
He would not say what particular risks were identified by the GCSB.
‘‘There are a number of factors that come into it, that have come into the GCSB assessment. They’ll be known to Spark.
‘‘Spark’s job at this point is to consider whether or not they can mitigate those concerns.’’
Mr Little said China’s National Intelligence Law, brought in last year, was a ‘‘known concern’’ that would also apply to other Chinese companies and individuals.
‘‘Any Chinese corporate or Chinese citizen can be compelled to cooperate and collaborate with Chinese intelligence,’’ he said.
‘‘Yes, that’s a known concern. ‘‘‘I think when it comes to the infrastructure risks that the GCSB has to assess and take responsibility for, then that obviously is a factor that’s going to come up.
‘‘Any Chinese citizen and any Chinese company is affected by that law — and it’s not just domestically in China, it’s anywhere in the world."
He also had not had contact with the Five Eyes nations about Huawei.
‘‘I personally haven’t had any messages from representatives of the intelligence agencies of any of the Five Eyes countries (NZ, Australia, Canada, US and the UK) in relation to Huawei,’’ he said.
Mr Bowater was still confident any problems could be worked through.
‘‘As I say, we’re up for any sort of discussion,’’ he said.
‘‘If that meant . . . not having Chinese citizens . . . as staff — as weird as that would be — we’re up for that discussion as well to have 100% localised staff.
‘‘We would consider that if they thought that would solve that issue.’’
Regarding the developments in Poland, Mr Little said the decision by the GCSB predated it, and it ‘‘remains to be seen’’ whether it would have any impact in future. — RNZ