PNG up­holds deal with Huawei to lay in­ter­net cable, de­rides counter-of­fer

Global Times US Edition - - BIZOVE -

Pa­pua New Guinea (PNG) will up­hold its agree­ment with China’s Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co to build its in­ter­net in­fra­struc­ture, a PNG gov­ern­ment min­is­ter said on Mon­day, dis­miss­ing of­fers from Western coun­tries to take on the work.

The com­ments from the min­is­ter, Wil­liam Duma, are a blow to Aus­tralia, Ja­pan and the US, which have tried to per­suade PNG to dump the Chi­nese com­pany, amid broad ef­forts to limit China’s in­flu­ence across the Pa­cific.

“We have an ex­ist­ing agree­ment,” Duma, min­is­ter for pub­lic en­ter­prise and state in­vest­ment, told Reuters by tele­phone from Port Moresby.

“It’s about honor and in­tegrity; once you en­ter into a deal and an ar­range­ment, you go with it.”

Huawei won a ten­der to build a net­work in the South Pa­cific na­tion two years ago, but amid deep­en­ing con­cern in the West over the com­pany’s links to China’s gov­ern­ment, al­lies Aus­tralia, Ja­pan and the US re­cently mounted an 11th-hour counter-of­fer. But Duma dis­missed it. “It’s a bit pa­tron­iz­ing,” he said, adding that Huawei had done about 60 per­cent of the work on the project.

Huawei said in 2016 it would build a 5,457-kilo­me­ter net­work of sub­ma­rine ca­bles link­ing 14 coastal towns in the re­source-rich na­tion of 8 mil­lion peo­ple.

A spokesman for the com­pany de­clined to com­ment.

Aus­tralia, which has shut Huawei out of con­tracts to build its own na­tional mo­bile net­work on se­cu­rity grounds, blocked the com­pany from lay­ing sub­ma­rine cable from Syd­ney to PNG and the Solomon Is­lands in July.

Western in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have said Huawei’s tech­nol­ogy could be used for es­pi­onage, some­thing the com­pany de­nies.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Aus­tralian, Ja­panese and US gov­ern­ments had no im­me­di­ate com­ment on Mon­day.

A spokesman for PNG Prime Min­is­ter Peter O’Neill was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.

Jonathan Pryke, of the Syd­ney-based Lowy In­sti­tute think tank, said that those con­cerned about China’s in­flu­ence had been slow to see the in­roads Huawei was mak­ing. “We missed the boat on that one,” Pryke said. “I think you’ll find there will be a lot more at­ten­tion in fu­ture to make sure we don’t miss the boat.”

Aus­tralia, the US, Ja­pan and New Zealand this month an­nounced a A$1.7 bil­lion power grid up­grade for PNG, which in­cludes some in­ter­net in­fra­struc­ture, which would mean they were not be­ing com­pletely locked out of the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor, Pryke said.

Chi­nese tech gi­ants like Alibaba and Huawei have ex­panded their busi­ness in Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries in­clud­ing PNG, of­fer­ing dig­i­tal ser­vices such as mo­bile pay­ment and e-trade plat­forms and pro­vid­ing in­ter­net in­fra­struc­ture to cre­ate jobs and mo­men­tum for the lo­cal econ­omy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.