Huawei calls on Govt to ex­plain ban

Otago Daily Times - - GENERAL -

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

An­drew Lit­tle

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