Avoiding Huawei

The U.S. government has initiated an extraordinary outreach campaign to foreign allies, trying to persuade wireless and internet providers in these countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co., according to people familiar with the situation.

American officials have briefed their government counterparts and telecom executives in friendly countries where Huawei equipment is already in wide use, including Germany, Italy and Japan, about what they see as cybersecurity risks, these people said. The U.S. is also considering increasing financial aid for telecommunications development in countries that shun Chinese-made equipment, some of these people say.

One U.S. concern centers on the use of Chinese telecom equipment in countries that host American military bases, according to people familiar with the matter. The Defense Department has its own satellites and telecom network for sensitive communications, but most traffic at many military installation’s travels through commercial networks.

Huawei NZ deputy chief executive Andrew Bowater says there has never been any evidence tabled that his company is involved in espionage – and that reports inevitably quote un-named sources talking about un-specified incidents. Under the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act (2013), the GCSB has to approve technology used by network operators for telecommunications network upgrades, Bowater says.

Huawei faced similar scrutiny by the GCHQ in the UK, which shared results with New Zealand. It has passed. However, Bowater also says Huawei will not bid for Spark, Vodafone or 2degrees’ core 5G business, citing “sensitivities.

 

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz