China 'made clear' rules should be fairly applied over Huawei - Trade Minister

A senior US official is warning that intelligence sharing with countries that use Huawei in developing 5G networks would be reassessed, however New Zealand's Trade Minister says China "made clear" it expects telecommunication rules should be fairly applied.

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The Trade Minister was asked if anyone from any Chinese delegation raised New Zealand's Huawei 5G decision. Source: Q+A

Senior US official Rob Strayer told the BBC Huawei playing any role in 5G networks would be an "unacceptable risk" to security, after a reported leak suggested the UK would allow the Chinese company to create some components of its 5G network. 

On TVNZ1's Q+A, Mr Parker was asked by host Jack Tame if anyone from any Chinese delegation raised New Zealand's Huawei 5G decision.

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Fresh from his return from China, Mr Parker talks the Belt and Road initiative, trade and capital gains tax. Source: Q+A

The Chinese company Huawei's bid to assist in developing New Zealand's 5G network was denied by the GCSB in November last year.

"The word Huawei wasn't raised," Mr Parker said. "But they made it clear that they expect rules relating to telecommunications to be fairly applied."

"They’ve been pretty clear that they don't like some of the things that have been said in respect to Huawei internationally, but it wasn't directly raised in an aggressive way."

He said it was "implicit" Huawei was the company in reference. 

"I think there is a depth to the New Zealand relationship here with China that means that we can at times disagree. You can disagree with friends without losing your underlying relationship," Mr Parker said. 

Last week the Daily Telegraph reported a leak that the UK would let Huawei build non-core components of its 5G network, despite the fact, according to its Digital Minister, a final decision is yet to be made. 

On if this would have any influence on New Zealand's 5G decision, Mr Parker said GCSB and SIS Minister Andrew Little would not be actively involved in the decision. 

"These decisions are taken quite deliberately by New Zealand. We distance politicians from some of these controversial decisions."

He said officials in China understood, and "whatever the outcome is, Huawei will still have a place in New Zealand". 

In February, Ms Ardern would not rule out Huawei having a future role in New Zealand’s 5G upgrade, if the GCSB's security concerns could be mitigated.

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That’s if the GCSB’s security concerns can be mitigated, Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ1’s Q+A. Source: Q+A

Mr Strayer told BBC there was an "unacceptable risk in letting untrusted vendors provide that base infrastructure because they could disrupt any of those critical services".

"In addition we're concerned about the ability for a government that has the track record... that China has, to potentially have access to that massive increase in data, personal data in many cases, that could be used in nefarious ways."

Today, Ms Ardern said, "New Zealand will always base its decision based on its own independent foreign policy". 

"Those decisions will be based on protecting New Zealand's interests and New Zealand's security."

Earlier this month, United States' top Asia Pacific official, Patrick Murphy told Q+A of his country's "concerns" about national security regarding Huawei.

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The US top official for Asia-Pacific described the situation as “live and evolving”. Source: Q+A

"We will do what's necessary to protect our own national interests," he said.

"Our concerns, though, are in fact profound, where China is not playing by the rules, is setting the framework according to its own interests and against the interests of many of our friends and partners. That's where the concerns lie. And those are the conversations we have."

In December, National leader Simon Bridges told RNZ security should be taken seriously. However, he added, "if there isn't the evidence, we should be using [Huawei]".

He said the US and China were in a "virtual war, whether it's trade, whether it's influence in the Pacific, whether it's wider – it matters".