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China 'hopes' NZ will let Huawei into 5G, despite US 'bullying'

Thursday 12th September 2019

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China's ambassador to New Zealand, Wu Xi, says her government hopes New Zealand will let Chinese telecommunications company Huawei provide equipment for the country's 5G network despite "trade bullying" from the United States.

In a rare interview, Wu employs a range of classic Chinese Communist Party epithets to rebuke the US for its "disgraceful and immoral" conduct and defend China's patchy record of intellectual property protection. 

The US had "continuously abused the national security concept to disadvantage Chinese companies, including Huawei," Wu told BusinessDesk by email.

In answer to whether China had a problem with IP theft - an issue on which US Republican and Democrat party lawmakers are united in agreement - Wu said "many of the concerns raised by foreign firms doing business in China have already been addressed through judicial reform and a strengthened enforcement mechanism".

China now had "one of the shortest adjudication periods in the world" for its IP courts.

"The US allegations are groundless and are just excuses to justify the trade war," said Ambassador Wu, a highly rated Chinese diplomat who served as deputy chief of mission from 2013 to 2018 in the Chinese embassy in Washington DC before becoming a full ambassador to New Zealand.

China-watchers say Wu's career path leads to the highest levels of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing.

New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau has blocked Huawei from supplying Spark New Zealand with equipment for its 5G rollout. The Shenzhen-based telecommunications equipment maker has supplied non-sensitive parts of New Zealand's 4G wireless network and elements of the government-sponsored fixed-line ultrafast broadband network. 

Its reasons are not public, but Spark has not so far made a new application to overcome the significant national security risk the GCSB identified in its rejection.

As a member of the Anglo-centric 'Five Eyes' global intelligence-gathering network also involving the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK, New Zealand is seen as a 'canary in the cage' for US-led efforts to thwart Huawei's 5G rollout to developed economies for what appear to be a combination of trade protectionist and genuine national security concerns.

"We hope that New Zealand will provide a fair, just and transparent business environment for all companies, including Huawei," said Wu's emailed statement. "The US not only lectures other countries on their 5G networks, but also pushes them to take the same stance, which is a blatant demonstration of unilateralism and hegemony."

Asked how the US-China trade tensions were likely to conclude, the ambassador said the US had "now flip-flopped, completely broken its promises, imposing additional tariffs on Chinese exports and escalated a trade war".

"The US will eventually suffer from its own actions," said Wu, calling on New Zealand to "stand up to trade bullying and safeguard the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation at its core".

China "does not want a trade war, but we are not afraid of fighting one," her statement says. She held out hope for more fruitful discussions at the 13th round of US-China negotiations, in early October in the US.

(BusinessDesk)

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