China’s Huawei Enters New Zealand Despite Espionage Fears

April 8, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
An ultra fast broadband tower
HAMILTON: An ultra fast broadband tower on a rural farm in Eureka that was built under the rural broadband initiative. (Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

New Zealand’s $1.35 billion ultrafast broadband project will go ahead with the involvement of Huawei despite fears over cyber security.

Huawei has signed a deal with Chorus, New Zealand’s largest telecommunications utility company to extend the reach of world-class broadband into rural New Zealand. Deals have also been signed with Enable Services Ltd, Christchurch, North Island Wel networks and 2 Degrees Mobile.

“Huawei has been blocked in both Australia and the United States over security concerns and it’s hard to believe our security agencies know something about Huawei that Australia and the United States don’t, said Green Party ICT spokesperson Gareth Hughes in a media release

“Cyber warfare is a major security concern and the Government needs to ensure that it is protecting the interests of New Zealanders and New Zealand companies.”

Fear of offending the Chinese Regime should not stand in the way of New Zealand’s national security or prevent the Government from carrying out an investigation, said Mr. Hughes.

Huawei has been blocked from the Australian $36 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) contracts on advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

A joint venture with the U.S. company Symantec four years ago was dissolved because of fears that its association with the Chinese company would prevent Symantec from obtaining classified information about cyberthreats from the U.S. government, reported the New York Times last week.

A former U.S. Defence Department employee and Auckland-based defence analyst believes that Huawei is a facade for Chinese Intelligence.

“Our major security partners think these guys are up to no good. I would be very surprised if the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) and the SIS (N.Z. Security Intelligence Service) had not been in contact with our larger partners about the presence of Huawei in the New Zealand broadband market,” Dr Buchanan told the National Business Review (NBR) last week.

He told the Review that Huawei could be eyeing the top-secret Echelon intelligence network where top intelligence information is shared between New Zealand, the US, Britain, Australia and Canada.

“China has no such luxury. It has to do everything by itself and it’s been lagging behind with signals intelligence and technical intelligence, and they’ve been playing catch-up for the last 10 years.

“But if they’re going to be a great power they’ve got to do this. They’ve got to get out and get a significant signals and technical intelligence capability, and the suspicion among the Americans and the British is that Huawei is one way of doing something,” he told NBR.

The New Zealand Government says it is comfortable with the security of its telecommunications and broadband systems.

“I’m aware, obviously, of Australias’ decision to exclude them (Huawei) from the NBN and that’s their decision,” Communications Minister Amy Adams said in an interview with Radio New Zealand last week.

“We take security of the network very seriously, but we’ve obviously responded to the threats we’re aware of and put in place steps to deal with that,” she said.

Labour Party’s Communications and IT spokesperson Clare Curran is asking the Government to explain why their decision to involve Huawei in broadband projects is at variance with that of the Australian Government.

“The Australians are considered to be a partner in terms of our security and intelligence relationships. If they are concerned enough to ban Huawei from bidding for the broadband contract, why has New Zealand allowed three taxpayer-funded contracts to go ahead without a more robust probe into the implications for the integrity of our network?” questions Ms. Curran, in a press release.