18 Feb 2019

UK finds it can mitigate Huawei risks, NZ follows same processes: PM

7:48 pm on 18 February 2019

Britain has decided it can mitigate the risks arising from the use of Huawei Technologies in 5G networks, a UK newspaper has reported.

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Photo: AFP

The Financial Times report cites two sources familiar with the conclusion of Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The conclusion reached by the British government would "carry great weight" with European leaders, the FT said, quoting a source.

Read more on Huawei and the NZ-China relationship:

"Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their publics and the US administration that they are acting in a prudent manner in continuing to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components as long as they take the kinds of precautions recommended by the British," the source told the newspaper.

Huawei, along with another Chinese network equipment company ZTE Corp, has been accused the United States of working at the behest of the Chinese government.

The United States has said their equipment could be used to spy on Americans.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the claims.

New Zealand's government last year turned down Spark's proposed use of Huawei equipment in its new 5G network after the Government Communications Security Bureau cited significant national security risks.

The company has offered to open its systems to the government to allay concerns and has said New Zealand risks missing out on having the best possible network.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was going through the same process as the UK in considering a bid by Huawei to be involved in the rollout of 5G.

New Zealand's spy agency recommended rejecting a similar bid here unless Spark proved it could mitigate similar risks.

Ms Ardern said the two countries' processes were similar in this regard.

"We have a process where an assessment is made by the GCSB, independent of ministers. Any vendor who has made an application is then told of the outcome of that assessment and is given a chance, if there are security concerns to mitigate those concerns," she said.

"Spark has been given options to aroung mitigation of potential security concerns and now the ball is in their court."

However, Ms Ardern responded to what she said were inaccurate news stories reporting that the relationship between China and New Zealand was under strain.

Ms Ardern told media at her weekly post-cabinet news conference that were no problems with New Zealand exports at China's border.

"Our officials in China have confirmed that New Zealand primary products continue to clear the products as usual. There is no indication of anything out of the ordinary in China's border clearance procedures for New Zealand products."

Ms Ardern said it was also not true that the Chinese Government was warning tourists not to come to New Zealand.

Earlier this month, the chief of Britain's foreign intelligence service said Britain should avoid relying on a monopoly provider of equipment in new 5G mobile networks, but that there were no easy answers to concerns about using Huawei.

Separately, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in December and faces possible extradition to the United States. Last month, she was charged with wire fraud that violated US sanctions on Iran.

Huawei and NCSC did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

- RNZ / Reuters

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