Huawei founder wants to allay security concerns with NZ politicians

Amy Adams

Huawei Technologies founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei has assured Communications Minister Amy Adams that the world's second-biggest maker of networking gear poses no threat to cyber-security.

Speaking in his first public media briefing through a translator, Mr Ren confirmed to reporters in Wellington that he told Ms Adams in a meeting this week that "there should not be too much concern" over internet security.

Huawei was accused of being a risk to US security in a Congress intelligence committee report last year and has since stopped supplying equipment to American carriers.

"Our business is just like building pipes," Mr Ren says. "Our pipe carries the data and information traffic – if the water running through the pipe is polluted, I think it is not the pipe that should be blamed."

"We are no longer selling our telecom equipment to telecom carriers in the US," he says. "If, for example, the United States continues to say 'we still have this security problem' that may prove in hindsight that the decision may not be very fact based."

Huawei has become a major player in New Zealand's telecommunications sector, recently winning the tender to build Telecom Corp's 4G mobile network and beating out the local carrier's past architect, Alcatel Lucent.

The Chinese company is also a major supplier to Vodafone New Zealand and Two Degrees Mobile, as well as providing technology for the government's ultrafast broadband network.

Joint innovation centre

Huawei plans to set up a "joint innovation centre" with Telecom where experts from the local firm will look at the specific needs of New Zealand's market while the Chinese company's specialists will investigate what kind of technologies can satisfy those needs, Mr Ren says.

He said he had also met Labour Party leader David Shearer and had told both him and Ms Adams that creating a leading technology infrastructure would help New Zealand take advantage of its natural resources to lift economic activity.

"Given that New Zealand wants to take a lead versus other markets in the world by introducing new technologies, then definitely we support that aspiration." 

That meeting did not stop Labour MP Phil Goff, Mr Shearer's predecessor as leader, from criticising the government yesterday for letting Huawei set up a network in New Zealand.

Speaking in Parliament at the first reading of legislation relating to the country's intelligence agencies, he said "maybe the government should be asking itself some questions about why, unlike Australia and the United States, it has accepted Huawei into New Zealand, when that in itself is regarded by two of the countries we work closely with as being a security risk".

The regulatory impact statement for the Government Communications Security Bureau Act Review, prepared by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, singled out cyber-security risks as one of the most dynamic parts in the intelligence sector.

The report put the cost of cyber-crime to New Zealanders at $625 million over the past 12 months.

Mr Ren said New Zealand should be looking to the Nordic nations and Singapore as an international benchmark as to how it rates, though it is "among the first wave of countries in establishing telecommunications infrastructure".

Because of New Zealand's uneven population distribution, he said that in his opinion "the most advanced technologies should be deployed starting from higher value areas and regions so that it can reduce the capital expenses and also the operating expenses".

The pending government auction of 700 megahertz radio spectrum which is coming from after the television digital switchover will be "very cost efficient for rural coverage" as the roll-out of technology expands, he said.

(BusinessDesk)

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6 Comments & Questions

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I doubt Huawei is spying on you but the US Govt most certainly is.

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Alan - both US and Huawei are spying.

Ok, technically Huawei just provides the gear. Others in China can access the Huawei gear for the spy activities.

All very ho-hum

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Huawei does not pose a cyber security concern. Yeah, right. And the moon is made of green cheese.

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What a lot of rubbish. Amy you show you are just too stupid to understand. They have the power to shut all our comms down - gee, when that happens I wonder what you will say.
Probably nothing as you don't have either the experience nor the ability to understand the issues.
I would not trust them, period. Yep, everyone else is spying on us but then "everyone" else is on our side!
Short sighted as National seems to be, and I used to be a supporter!
Amy, go back to youth affairs and leave the rest to grown-ups.

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No threat.... .........
This from the lady who thought the meaning of the word 'interpolate' when used by Dr Norman , meant translating a foreign language.
Bright as a lightbulb.

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These comments sound like a bunch of racist codswallop to me. Why would a Chinese private company want to influence data networks of a tiny country on the other side of the globe? "Shut our networks down" !? Why? World domination? Bud they got that already. The Chinese economy has just or is about to surpassed the USA, faster growth and irony of all ironies they are the USA's largest funder! And no boom and bust as they are a little better focused and (gulp) regulated.

Of more interest, I always thought that Huawei copied Cisco routers, back one release.. Maybe their R and D has paid off and they have finally invented something new. Or maybe they just make it cheaper....

Oh and the US is actually only on the US's side. Ask half the African nations for a better understanding of political and economic interference. The US does not care about little NZ one heart beat longer than it suits their purposes.

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