Huawei CEO refutes US criticism during NZ visit

The CEO of Chinese vendor Huawei has spoken to the media at a press event in New Zealand. During his visit Ren Zhengfei pledged Huawei’s commitment to contributing to New Zealand’s digital economy. He also addressed comments from the US House Intelligence Committee claiming that the vendor is not to be trusted.

Last month Huawei won a contract to build Telecom New Zealand’s LTE network, which is expected to go live in October this year.  The vendor has also been selected as a core supplier for New Zealand’s Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) initiative.

“New Zealand is one of Huawei’s most important strategic markets and is very valuable to us,” he said. “Huawei has been selected to help build a 4G/LTE and the UFB network in New Zealand. We will continue to deploy world-class, advanced communications technologies here, delivering the safest, most advanced networks for the nation.”

Commenting on accusations from the US House Intelligence Committee, which warned the nation’s telecoms operators not to trust ZTE and Huawei, Ren voiced his confidence that none of Huawei’s staff would engage in spying, even if asked to by Chinese security agencies. He added that the vendor is not in a position to collect operators’ network data in the US in any case.

“Huawei equipment is almost non-existent in networks currently running in the US,” he said. “We have never sold any key equipment to major US carriers, nor have we sold any equipment to any US government agency. Huawei has no connection to the cyber security issues the US has encountered in the past, current and future.”

According to news agency The Associated Press, he also refused to allow photos at the event, international media were barred and Ren declined an interview with the agency.

Huawei said that it employs 120 people in New Zealand, 90 per cent of whom were hired locally. Over the last three years, Huawei’s total direct investment in New Zealand was NZ$139m. The vendor added that it intends to employ more staff and increase its investments in New Zealand in the future.

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