Tuesday 26 March 2019

New Zealand to carry out Huawei threat assessment

Under scrutiny: Firms including Vodafone have stalled deployment of Huawei tech until it is given security clearance
Under scrutiny: Firms including Vodafone have stalled deployment of Huawei tech until it is given security clearance

Charlotte Greenfield

NEW ZEALAND will independently assess the risk of using China's Huawei Technologies in 5G networks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday after a report suggested that British precautions could be used by other nations.

Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government and US-led allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.

No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have led several Western countries to restrict Huawei's access to their markets.

The 'Financial Times' reported on Sunday that the British government had decided it can mitigate the risks arising from the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks.

It said Britain's conclusion would "carry great weight" with European leaders and other nations could use similar precautions.

New Zealand's intelligence agency in November rejected an initial request from telecommunications services provider Spark to use 5G equipment provided by Huawei.

At the time, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) gave Spark options to mitigate national security concerns over the use of Huawei equipment, Ms Ardern said.

"The ball is now in their court," she told a weekly news conference.

Ms Ardern said New Zealand - which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network that includes the United Kingdom and the United States - would conduct its own assessment.

Huawei New Zealand did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spark said it was in discussions with GCSB officials.

"We are working through what possible mitigations we might be able to provide to address the concerns raised by the GCSB and have not yet made any decision on whether or when we should submit a revised proposal to GCSB," a Spark spokesman said.

The Huawei decision, along with the government's tougher stance on China's growing influence in the Pacific, has some politicians and foreign policy analysts worried about potential strained ties with a key trading partner in China.


Irish Independent

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