Huawei 5G decision: 'There's going be tension one way or another'

by Matthew Theunissen / 30 January, 2019
huawei 5g new zealand

Photo: RNZ/ AFP / NurPhoto

RelatedArticlesModule - huawei

GCSB Minister Andrew Little says there's going to be diplomatic tensions whether or not Chinese telco company Huawei is allowed to build New Zealand's 5G network.

The government's spy agency blocked Spark's bid to use Huawei equipment in the 5G rollout due to national security concerns, joining fellow Five Eyes countries Australia, Canada and the US.

Negotiations are ongoing between the GCSB, Spark and Huawei to see whether the concerns can be mitigated.

Yesterday, the US Justice Department laid a raft of charges against Huawei, accusing the company and some top executives of stealing trade secrets, laundering money, obstructing justice and ignoring US sanctions against Iran.

It marks an escalation of hostilities between the States and China and comes just days before a meeting aimed at ending the trade war between the world's two largest economic powers.

Mr Little acknowledged that if New Zealand continues to block Huawei from the 5G project, it could be a blow to relations with our biggest trading partner.

Likewise, allowing China to build the network risks antagonising the US and other Five Eyes allies.

"There's going be tension one way or another. In the end, the whole purpose of the relevant legislation is about ensuring the security of this piece of infrastructure and our national telecom network and I've got to be guided by that."

Asked about the latest charges laid in the US, Mr Little said they're just allegations and shouldn't be accepted as fact.

"It's for Spark, who notified the GCSB that they want to use Huawei technology, to then decide whether or not they wish to continue with that proposal or work with the GCSB on any mitigation or to abandon it.

"The phase we're in at the moment is awaiting a decision from Spark."

Spark could decide to push ahead with the Huawei arrangement despite the GCSB's position, in which case it would need to go before the minister, Mr Little said.

Prominent writer and former diplomat Yang Hengjun, an Australian citizen, is the latest person to be locked up in China in what some commentators believe is retaliation by the Chinese state for the Huawei controversy.

As well as the detention of Mr Yang last week, two Canadians were recently detained and another, Robert Schellenberg, was sentenced to death after a one-day trial to appeal his 15-year prison sentence for drug trafficking.

Mr Little said he wasn't concerned about New Zealanders potentially being targeted by the Chinese state in retaliation.

In a 13-count indictment filed in New York yesterday, the US Justice Department said Huawei misled a global bank and US authorities about its relationship with subsidiaries Skycom Tech and Huawei Device USA Inc, in order to conduct business in Iran.

In a separate case, the Justice Department also accused two Huawei subsidiaries of 10 counts of stealing trade secrets, wire fraud and obstructing justice for allegedly stealing robotic technology from carrier T-Mobile US Inc to test smartphones' durability. Those charges were filed in the western district of Washington state.

Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou - who is also the daughter of Huawei's founder, Ren Zhengfei - was arrested in Canada in December at Washington's request, and is now fighting extradition to the United States.

China has rejected the latest charges, a senior government official slamming them as "unfair and immoral" and urging the US to end the "unreasonable suppression" of Chinese businesses.

- additional reporting by Reuters.

This article was first published on Radio NZ.


The new robotic surgery aiding vaginal mesh removal
108377 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Health

The new robotic surgery aiding vaginal mesh remova…

by Ruth Nichol

Women with complications caused by deeply embedded vaginal mesh are being helped by a pioneering surgical technique.

Read more
A beautiful mind: What people with Alzheimer's can teach us
108544 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Health

A beautiful mind: What people with Alzheimer's can…

by Fergus Riley

North Auckland farmer Fergus Riley has uncovered many important lessons in caring for his father Peter, who has Alzheimer’s.

Read more
Instagram's trial to hide the number of 'likes' could save users' self-esteem
108617 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Psychology

Instagram's trial to hide the number of 'likes' co…

by Joanne Orlando

Instagram is running a social media experiment to see what happens when it hides the number of likes on photos and other posts.

Read more
The Hawke's Bay farm producing meat of uncommon quality
108594 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Food

The Hawke's Bay farm producing meat of uncommon qu…

by Simon Farrell-Green

Duncan Smith and Annabel Tapley-Smith weren’t satisfied with producing meat of uncommon quality. So they bought a butchery.

Read more
When biodegradable plastic is not actually biodegradable
108562 2019-07-19 00:00:00Z Planet

When biodegradable plastic is not actually biodegr…

by Isabel Thomlinson

A study on biodegradable plastic bags found they were still intact after three years spent either at sea or buried underground.

Read more
Brexit-torn England needs the Cricket World Cup more than we do
108521 2019-07-18 10:26:20Z World

Brexit-torn England needs the Cricket World Cup mo…

by The Listener

Amid the agony of defeat, we must remember that the UK is in such terrible shape politically that it deserves to cherish this flickering flame of...

Read more
Trades Hall bombing case re-opened, evidence released
108515 2019-07-18 00:00:00Z Crime

Trades Hall bombing case re-opened, evidence relea…

by RNZ

Caretaker and unionist Ernie Abbott was killed almost instantly when he picked up the suitcase containing the bomb.

Read more
Where to celebrate the Apollo 11 moon landing
108504 2019-07-18 00:00:00Z What's on

Where to celebrate the Apollo 11 moon landing

by The Listener

On the big screen, the small screen, the page or the ceiling, here's where you can toast the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Read more