The West

NZ Govt defends contracts with Huawei
NZ Govt defends contracts with Huawei

The New Zealand Government has defended its contracts with Chinese telco giant Huawei after a US committee warned against business with the company over fears of espionage.

Opposition parties say an inquiry is needed into Huawei's role in New Zealand's ultra-fast broadband rollout, after a damning report from the United States House Intelligence Committee said the company posed a major security threat.

A year-long probe by the committee raised concerns Huawei may be involved in espionage on behalf of the Chinese government, while former Huawei employees alleged the company was involved in bribery, corruption, discriminatory behaviour and copyright infringement.

Australia has already banned Huawei for tendering for work on its National Broadband Network, citing security concerns, apparently based on advice from security agencies.

However, Huawei has partnered with New Zealand's Ultrafast Fibre Ltd to provide technology for its rollout of ultra-fast broadband in Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Whanganui.

In March, Prime Minister John Key said he was comfortable with that arrangement.

Labour and the Greens say the government should not have been so quick to dismiss the concerns.

Labour MP David Cunliffe wants an independent inquiry into how Huawei became involved in the broadband scheme, and he wants to know what assurances the government has had that the company is safe.

Green Party technology spokesman Gareth Hughes says the government needs to review the US report.

Communications Minister Amy Adams responded by accusing opposition parties of "painting a very misleading view of the situation".

"The fact is that Huawei is involved in telecommunications in more than 100 countries, and hundreds of millions of people use their technology," she said in a statement to AAP.

"The government takes network security seriously, and is committed to working with operators and suppliers to protect the integrity and confidentiality of New Zealand's telecommunications networks."

She did not give further details on what action the government might take.

Huawei also works with New Zealand mobile providers.

It built and supports 2degrees' mobile network, built Vodafone's fixed broadband network, and provides mobile handsets to both companies, along with Telecom.

The West Australian

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