WELLINGTON: New Zealand independently assesses the risk of using China's Huawei Technologies in 5G networks, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday following a report suggesting that British measures could be used by other nations.
Huawei, the world's largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, is facing intense Western investigations over its relationship with the Chinese government and US claims that its equipment could be used by Beijing for espionage.
No evidence has been presented publicly, and the company has repeatedly denied allegations that have caused more Western countries to restrict Huawei's access to their markets.
On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that the UK Government had decided that it could limit the risks associated with the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks. It said that Britain's conclusion would "be of great importance" to European leaders, and other nations could apply similar measures.
New Zealand's intelligence agency in November rejected a first request from telecommunications provider Spark to use Huawei's 5G equipment.
At that time, the State Communications Security Agency (GCSB) provided Spark options to limit national security concerns over the use of Huawei equipment, Ardern said on Monday.
"The ball is now in their right," she told a weekly news conference.
Ardern said New Zealand, a member of the Five Eyes Intelligence Sharing Network, which includes the United Kingdom and the United States, would make its own assessment.
"I expect GCSB to apply with our legislation and our own security assessments. It's fair to say Five Eyes, of course, share information, but we make our own independent decisions," she said.
Huawei New Zealand did not respond promptly to a request for comment. Spark said it was in discussions with GCSB officials.
"We are working on the possible mitigation we might be able to offer to address the concerns raised by GCSB and have yet to decide whether or not to submit a revised proposal to GCSB," says spokesman Andrew Pirie in an emailed statement.
The Huawei decision, along with the government's harder stance on China's growing influence in the Pacific, has some politicians and foreign policy analysts concerned about potential strained ties with an important trading partner.
Arder's planned first visit to Beijing has been subject to planning problems, and China last week postponed a major New Zealand tourism campaign days before launch.
Ardern said that government relations with China were strong despite some complex problems.
"Visits are not a measure of the health of a relationship, they are only a small part of it," she said, adding that he D tourism bond remained strong.