Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

On the Chinese cyber security threat

March 28th, 2012

On paper, the decisions to partner with the Chinese firm Huawei in the roll out of ultra fast broadband (and rural broadband) in New Zealand were taken locally, by the Enable Networks in Christchurch, and by WEL Networks in the Waikato. Yet could those decisions really have been made without any consideration of the national security implications of such involvement? Did, for instance, the SIS and GCSB conduct any evaluation of the security implications of Huawei’s involvement – and if not, why not?

After all, New Zealand spent a lot of time in the mid 2000s worried about being a ‘soft touch’ on terrorism. Or agonised about being seen as a ‘soft touch’ on illegal immigrants. Or only a few days ago, bit its fingernails about being seen as a soft touch on homegrown terrorists.

Such were the concerns that the reactionary likes of Winston Peters spent a lot of time in the mid 2000s urging the Clark government to pre-emptively abridge the human rights of asylum seekers, in the name of national security. Peters used to be very, very concerned that this or that refugee or asylum seeker could be – or could be seen to be – a potential sleeper agent for Al Qaeda, and suggested that such complacency would only encourage the real Al Qaeda operatives to regard us as a soft portal for further mischief.

All that evidently goes out the window when there are bucks to be made from doing trade with China. Might taking action on potential security risks get us in China’s bad books? Well, better not do anything. Thus, the fact that our defence and security partners in Australia and the United States have barred Huawei – on security grounds – from bidding in key telecommunications contracts in those countries has been brushed aside.

The performance by Communications Minister Amy Adams under softball questioning on RNZ this morning did nothing to allay concerns. Adams claimed not to be able to answer questions about individual firms – but then proceeded to cite the good news about Huawei’s work in Singapore and the UK. She also said that New Zealand relies for security intelligence on ‘very robust systems’ and has ‘excellent’ sources of information on such issues.

Right. Would that be the same excellent sources of intelligence information that New Zealand relied on in the Ahmed Zaoui case? Someone should be telling Adams that simply saying “trust us, we know what we’re doing” really doesn’t cut it any more on national security issues. The credibility of governments on security issues has to be earned, not merely asserted.

So who is Huawei, and why do our friends in Australia and the US feel so concerned about its activities ? The New York Times report on the banning of Huawei from involvement in Australia’s telecommunications work is here. The Washington Post story on the same subject is here.

According to the Australian Financial Review, which broke the original story, Huawei was informed late last year of the Gillard government’s decision to bar it from competing for a share of the $US38 billion rollout of fibrere optic cable to 93% of Australian homes and workplaces by 2020. Amusingly, the first casualties of this decision were the ACT Brumbies rugby team, and the Canberra Raiders NRL team, both of which Huawei had hoped to use as a vehicle to enhance its corporate image among ordinary Australians:

Intrigue surrounds Huawei’s withdrawal from the sponsorship of rugby union side the ACT Brumbies just before Christmas. The sponsorship deal had been signed off by Huawei’s board and jersey designs incorporating the company’s logo had been approved. Brumbies sources say Huawei’s excuse for withdrawing from the talks was that it had been advised by the government there were doubts about its future business prospects in Australia.

The case against Huawei is set out in this opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review.

It goes like this: China is the current source of most of the cyber attacks being made on Western government and corporate websites. Huawei was founded by its chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army in China. Furthermore:

Huawei’s failure to disclose that the chairman, Sun Yafang, had been a senior official within the Ministry of State Security, the country’s primary and largest agency for foreign intelligence gathering, will not have helped its cause…

The structural relationship between Huawei and the Chinese government – and the role of telecommunications within Beijing’s strategic planning – is also of relevance:

Telecommunications is designated as one of seven “strategic” sectors by the State Council. Beijing expressly seeks to maintain absolute control of these sectors, which are considered vital to China’s core national and security interests.

This usually means taking a controlling interest in building up these “national champions”, offering them privileged and protected access to markets, cheap capital, tax incentives and other subsidies and, for those with offshore interests, diplomatic support… Huawei is openly spoken of as a “national champion” by Chinese political and military officials. Being so in a “strategic” sector has given it privileged access to below-market rates as well as special tax and subsidy support.

In return, strategic national champions are expected to pursue Beijing’s strategic and political objectives in addition to their own commercial goals.

Canberra is well aware that more instances of cyber attack and industrial espionage originate in China than anywhere else in the world. Despite Beijing blaming these on rogue citizens, their level of sophistication means that many can only be by instigated by government agencies or large firms.

Some of the criticisms of Huawei can be laid at the door of US firms using security concerns as a trade barrier. For instance, some of the lobbying in the US against Huawei for supplying surveillance equipment to the mullahs in Iran for use against the democracy movement in that country was probably not motivated by heartfelt concern about the plight of democracy in Iran. Yet do people in the Waikato and Canterbury know that the very same Chinese firm supplying them with faster broadband (and rural broadband) has also been helping the mullahs to cyber-eavesdrop on protestors in Iran using social media, activities which have led directly to their torture and execution?

Until late last year, Huawei dominated Iran’s telecommunications business and garnered massive revenues from doing so. Unfortunately, there are also reports that it played a role as Iran’s partner in crime as the regime went about tracking, silencing, and killing Iranian opposition figures.

In 2009, when Iranians took to the streets to protest President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election, Huawei reportedly installed tracking equipment for all of Iran’s telecommunication providers that allowed the Iranian intelligence services to locate people through their cellphones, thus enabling the regime to pursue, jail, and often kill opposition members.

Given that track record, Huawei hardly seems a case of moral investment within our broadband rollout. (Reportedly, Huawei has responded to such criticism by scaling back its business operations in Iran.) As its defenders point out, Huawei is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, and has won telecommunications contracts in Singapore and the UK – apparently without incident, so far as can be detected, thus far.
Currently Huawei is also being mooted as a key provider in one of the planned trans-Tasman fibre-optic undersea cable options.

Huawei Marine and a second Chinese company, Axin, have proposed an Auckland-Sydney submarine cable, with state-owned Kordia vying for the right to manage it.

Once again, if this option went ahead, it would raise security and intelligence conflict between New Zealand and Australia – given that Huawei is not only being blocked from participation in the national broadband rollout in Australia, but will also almost certainly be barred from any participation as well – for obvious reasons – from this fibre optic cable project linking Perth with Singapore:

The key undersea cables that link Australia to the outside world are set to be the latest cause of friction between Chinese tech giant Huawei and the Gillard government. The government is understood to be investigating submarine cable provider Huawei Marine Networks and its potential for security breaches.

In January, Melbourne-based ASSC-1 announced plans to build a cable from Perth to Singapore for up to $300 million using Huawei Marine Networks technology…..Sources in the federal government indicated ASSC-1’s cable could be reviewed under Foreign Investment Review Board regulations due to its location within Australia’s exclusive economic zone…..In a 2011 report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, concerns about Huawei’s submarine cable business were repeatedly raised.

“Hacking into optical fibre is not overly difficult,” the report said. “Whether fibre is cut by accident, by design to disrupt communications, or hacked to intercept sensitive data the threat to national security can be significant.”

So, what should New Zealand now do? The Greens have argued that the matter should be dealt within the secretive Intelligence and Security Committee, which is of little help – given how infrequently the committee meets, and how nothing of its deliberations ever sees daylight. All we would get at best, is a multiparty version of “trust us”.

Labour? David Shearer? Again, they seem to have nothing to say. Instead, Labour’s priority today has been to issue a press release lamenting the cutbacks to the nation’s military bands. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall as new Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman tries to justify New Zealand’s laissez-faire attitude to China’s cyber threat, within the next Five Power Defence Arrangement discussions.

New Zealand has already proven itself to be a soft and unreliable player in defence and security arrangements. Much of what the world knows about the Echelon monitoring and surveillance system was gathered by the penetration of the system’s weak point in New Zealand, by investigative reporter Nicky Hager in his book Secret Power. It will not have escaped the attention of the Chinese that New Zealand – ever eager and credulous in its trade and diplomatic dealings – offers a similar soft entry point for its further cyber penetration ambitions.

The Australians have got it right this time. Plainly, Huawei should be barred from any future role in building our telco infrastructure. Put it this way: Huawei is the sort of tainted corporate player that – if it were an asylum seeker – we would be clapping it in solitary confinement and trying to deport it as quickly as possible. Unless if course, as in this case, it chose to offer us a lot of money. But sacrificing your country’s basic security for short term trade benefits rarely ends happily.


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    1. 21 Responses to “On the Chinese cyber security threat”

    2. By Pantoufle Rouge on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      The problem I am afraid is that there are far too many sheep with wool over their eyes in this country.

    3. By Wilson Chau on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      Rather than sleeper Al Qaeda or Chinese agents rising up in the streets of Auckland, looks like we have a sleeper CIA antagonist living amongst us?

      When did Kiwis start becoming so paranoid of the spectre of a Chinese juggernaught? My fear is that the constant lambasting and paranoia of a perceived Chinese hazard to New Zealand will only drive away Chinese business and investment – something this country badly needs. And its not all about money. I sincerely believe that New Zealand has an opportunity to distinguish itself from other countries who have often perceived international relations in the Asia-Pacific as a zero-sum choice between either the Chinese or the United States. The moment we think of ourselves as making that sort of zero-sum choice between the two will be the day I lose faith in our independent foreign policy.

      And if the author is so concerned with morality and national security, then should New Zealanders do business or receive investment from US (and Australian) firms that are linked to the Coalition that invaded Iraq, or who are linked to the financing of private military companies massacring civilians, or companies that do business in developing and maintaining systems designed to guide and deliver weapons of mass destruction?

      Seems like the author wants us to sink back into the trenches of ANZUS, and what good did that do for us?

      While I agree the US is an important security partner, we should not be so naïve to simply and blindly follow Washington or Canberra or Tokyo or New Delhi or whatever other “friend” in painting China as an evil. As a Western OECD country, are at the forefront of defining a new era and a new kind of relationship with China. In spite of the criticisms of the FTA, it is a milestone that makes us stand above the US or Australia. Unbalanced reporting like this and the prolific labelling of China as a “threat” rather than an opportunity will only ruin the progress so many Kiwis have tried to make in the past few decades.

    4. By Russell Brown on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      Would that be the same excellent sources of intelligence information that New Zealand relied on in the Ahmed Zaoui case?

      So you’re saying our intelligence services should rely on advice that Huawei is a threat from the same people who told them Zaoui was a threat?

    5. By insider on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      IS Huawei doing anything that competing European or US telco suppliers aren;t doing? They too are very close to their governments, they too allow governments to access their systems for security purposes, which can often be used for suppression.

      Vodafone, Alcatel, Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola have been running networks in Egypt and Libya for over a decade. We should equally ban those companies from supplying our broadband network because of their complicity in oppressive acts of those countries’ former leaders. No doubt we will find a non-aligned peace loving supplier of hemp string that can be brought in to develop our phone network.

      But in your extensive quoting of the AFR article it’s surprising you didn’t use this bit: “There is no solid evidence that Huawei has been involved in any of these [cyber attacks], or has any intention of building nasties into our NBN.”

      In some ways it’s good to see your anti capitalist paranoia being spread beyond the western hemisphere.

    6. By Wilson Chau on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      I may add, there are things called contracts, laws, regulations and firewalls…

      It is not illegal for Chinese companies to bid and express interest, etc. If they break the rules, violate the contract or if there is indeed evidence that a Chinese company in NZ is facilitating espionage, then at that point you charge, prosecute, and dismantle that entity from NZ soil. But if Huawei turns out to be a rule-abiding player and provides seamless and economical service to NZ customers, then why not consider them?

      If we simply say no to Chinese business because of a moral gut feeling and various allegations of human rights violations, then I’m afraid all Chinese businesses are guilty in some way or another…and wait, let’s add virtually most US companies, Apple, Foxconn, Nescafe, etc.

      Oh and why does the author believe the United States should be are most trusted security provider considering what they did to us after we made our choice to go nuclear-free and all the dirt and violations of international law the US military and intelligence services have committed not only in Iraq in 2003 but in Vietnam, Grenada, Pakistan, Afghanistan? What makes them any more trusted than the Chinese?

    7. By Gordon Campbell on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      @ Russell Brown
      Sarcasm, like irony, is always dangerous in print. So, Russell…when I said “Would that be the same excellent sources of intelligence information that New Zealand relied on in the Ahmed Zaoui case?” I was being sarcastic in tossing Amy Adams’ word “excellent”(from the previous sentence) back at her. I’m NOT saying that we should rely on intelligence service assurances being parrotted by politicians here or overseas- quite the reverse. But I was pointing out, in passing, the lack of consistency in the SIS leaping to paranoid conclusions about Zaoui, while being asleep at the wheel in this case. No surprise there, really – but does the Key government have a clue about how badly its complacency over Huawei is going to be viewed by the very people it was trying to chum up with in our last Defence White Paper? Probably not.
      Finally, is it possible to hold concerns that Huawei MAY be a source of malware and spyware without being told so by the CIA and ASIO ? Yeah, I think so. Personally, I think the blood on Huawei’s hands that can be assumed from their reported provision of equipment to suppress social media in Iran – a capability that may well have lead to the torture and execution of dissidents – should be ample reason for the Green Party to call for Huawei’s exclusion from any NZ broadband contracts.

    8. By Wilson Chau on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      “I think the blood on Huawei’s hands that can be assumed from their reported provision of equipment to suppress social media in Iran – a capability that may well have lead to the torture and execution of dissidents – should be ample reason for the Green Party to call for Huawei’s exclusion from any NZ broadband contracts.”

      Good point. But still, I’m not sure what your intention is. Are you trying to paint Huawei as an evil Chinese corporate with some Chinese commie pulling the strings with glee?

      We must be cautious. That’s why all Chinese companies coming or intending to come into NZ must play by our rules, must bear the onus of showing that they are legit, etc. We must also not think so naively that by denying Huawei a chunk of our contract will mean we are safe from cyber attacks. We still need to up our cyber security.

      However, what NZ needs is balls – not balls to be like the big boys (US and Aus) but balls to actually press the Chinese on issues like cyber security. Fortunately, for us, despite our size, Beijing is more willing to engage with us on a variety of issues because they trust us. However, simply denying Huawei or other Chinese firms contracts based on moral gut feelings and Sinophobia will erode that trust and our ability to engage the Chinese. Personally, engagement, not containment or brickwalls, is my preferred and advised approach when dealing with Beijing.

      We should not be as stupid as the US Congress. A particular Congressman inserted in NASA’s space regulations that they must under no circumstances cooperate with the Chinese space agency. Rationale was to punish China for human rights and China’s space agency links to the military. But then again, was the US space program that angelic? Soviet fears that the US Space Shuttle was intended to be an atmospheric bomber concept/demonstrator were largely true. Plus, what it effectively meant was that the International Space Station will deny Chinese contribution/participation. If that’s the case, how dare they call themselves an “International” Space Station. I think if we look at the history and even current conduct of the main partners of the ISS, Russia most notably, none of them have a good track record, so why ban China from this human endeavour?

      Ok massive tangent. Sorry. But my point is we must not slip into the view that blocking the Chinese is the only way or even the best way to go. We also shouldn’t block Huawei just to prove to the US that little Kiwi boy has grown up. I’d rather we grow up to be a wiseman, not some jock playing invasion and spying games with the US gang.

    9. By Wilson Chau on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      Or maybe I’m just so cynical because of the hypocrisy of our past. We treated and worshipped Europe as our prime export partners in the immediate post-War period when they were committing the most heinous forms of oppression in human history, particularly the sustained occupation of colonies and the European Community’s silence on French suppression of civilians and revolutionary movements in Indo-China and Algeria that could well have amounted to millions of deaths.

      On the basis of your argument, I assert that we should cut all transactions and business links with Boeing and Lockheed Martin – simply on the basis that their machines are being used to kill civilians on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan? They have blood on their hands…am I not correct?

    10. By Richard Cheeseman on Mar 28, 2012 | Reply

      This Red/Yellow Peril hysteria about Huawei is not based on any concrete evidence whatever, instead relying entirely on traditional xenophobic stereotypes and on colonial cringe towards the security establishments in Australia and the US.

      It’s interesting that it’s being driven by left social democrats, in the shape of the Green Party.

      During the cold war it was normal for social democrats to be the most vociferous anti-communists, as a way of proving their loyalty to the white English-speaking empires and the capitalist order in general. They were second to none in denouncing Red China.

      But today this all seems atavistic.

      These days the NZ bourgeoisie, and hence our (their) government, are on the best of terms with China, which is NZ’s main economic partner (other than Australia, whose main partner is China in any case, so that our ties with Australia are also indirect ties to the Chinese economy).

      The present government’s reputation for sound economic management rests on its success in avoiding the worst of the global capitalist meltdown, and that in turn rests squarely on NZ’s recently acquired position within the Chinese economic zone and on China’s outstanding economic performance.

      Today NZ business needs to maintain excellent economic relations with China, and consequently both the mainstream parties are now promoting respectful, non-hysterical attitudes to the Chinese government and to Chinese corporations. This rationally reflects the self-interest of the NZ capitalist class.

      By contrast, the Greens’ permanent anti-China hysteria, exemplified by this Huawei fuss and their stunts in support of Tibetan feudal separatists, reflects their economic irresponsibility as a permanent opposition. Their indulgence in China-bashing shows that they’re still just a liberal-intellectual green pressure group, with the luxury of not having to present themselves as potential responsible stewards of the NZ capitalist economy.

      It’s also an interesting contradiction that the Greens, in their more rational moments, are not especially loyal to the imperialism of “our security partners” in the US (or the empire’s Australian deputy sheriff). The Greens bravely opposed the criminal war of aggression against Iraq and generally oppose the US empire’s spying in NZ and its imperial control over the local security establishment. They don’t often play on racism and xenophobia either.

      That’s why it’s so absurd to see these normally anti-imperialist worthies fretting about “national security risks” and calling for the right-wing parties and the US-controlled local security agencies to protect “us” from a Chinese telecommunications company … in the end, so that US corporations who are loyal to the genocidal rogue empire and its world-wide spy network can get the business.

    11. By simon edmunds on Mar 29, 2012 | Reply

      Living in China these past four years, it is usually so refreshing to read Gordon’s thoughtful and progressive articles and remember why I am still proud to be called a Kiwi.

      But I must wholeheartedly agree with Wilson Chau here – call out Huawei if and only if you are also prepared to insist that all other multinational corporations with ‘blood on their hands’ also be barred from business in NZ.

      In the present climate of NZ anti-Chinese racism (actually this is a climate dating back unbroken to the gold-rush era) failing to make this less selective call actually entrenches racist stereotypes of the Chinese.

      The Chinese government, and firms within China, are indeed guilty of human rights abuses. I support progressive commentators such as yourself bringing that to people’s attention.

      But do you also support boycotting American, British, Israeli and Australian firms who have been complicit in similar abuses? Are you about to publish articles calling for them to be locked out of NZ? If so – I salute your stance. If not – why not? I never thought I’d see you applying the same Winston Peters style approach to politics you criticise in your article – I hope I’ve got this wrong…

    12. By Gordon Campbell on Mar 29, 2012 | Reply

      I think you make some very good points – especially the last one about how the chain of culpability in creating war machines extends well beyond Chinese corporates, to some of the largest companies in the same USA now pointing the finger at Huawei. I also want to make it clear that I don’t think there is any evidence at all of Huawei’s installation of spyware and malware in its previous contracts.
      So what was the point of my article? Twofold. One, I was struck by the difference in approach by our security services on this issue. They seem to have a hair trigger response when it comes to anything that they can remotely construe as Islamic terrorism – while being sound asleep on almost everything else.In this case, it seemed especially peculiar because our two main defence allies – the ones with whom we claimed we had so much in common in the last Defence White Paper – were feeling concerned, while we were not. That complacency seemed likely to have repercussions for NZ within its current defence arrangements, whatever one feels about those arrangements – and I remain very critical of them. I’d like us to be far more independent in our foreign policy. This article wasn’t a pro-ANZUS call – it was a call for consistency. If the government truly believes its own pro-US / pro Canberra defence and security rhetoric on Tuesday and Wednesday, this stance can’t be suspended on Thursday and Friday for trade purposes.
      Lastly and in the point most relevant to your arguments Wilson, the reason I’m picking on China in this instance is because of the proximity between the activity of installation of telecommunications gear on one hand, and the behaviour of concern to the West which is rooted in the extent of organised cyber attacks by China’s military. Huawei may well be entirely innocent, and there is no proof of its complicity in spyware/malware activity – but because of the militarisation of much of the Chinese corporate sector that I pointed to in the article (and yes,corporate militarisation occurs in the US as well although with a quite different style and structure) there is reason for at least, some caution. Arguably, there could even be some onus of proof on Huawei to demonstrate its distance from the cyber activities of concern. We can agree that xenophobia towards China shouldn’t determine this issue. But that doesn’t mean that all criticism of Chinese corporate behaviour comes down merely to xenophobia.

    13. By Wilson Chau on Mar 29, 2012 | Reply

      Cool, chur bro!

      Thanks for engaging in such constructive discussion, I’m sorry if I come across a bit cynical and rude in my replies, but as a person of Chinese descent and also someone who has studied China and spent considerable time there, I try to play devil’s advocate on these issues and to also tackle racial discrimination, incorrect judgements regarding China, immigration, etc.

      However, it seems that Gordon you have indeed done your homework and, to be honest, I was quite impressed by your initial findings and also your response to my comments. I think you have what it takes to work in some of Australasia’s top-end political think tanks!

      You are indeed quite right as to the statement that Huawei might very well be an innocent actor. Chinese SOEs, the Communist Party, the various Ministries and even the military itself do not necessarily speak with one voice. There are many instances where the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to do “damage control” because of the actions conducted by the military or intelligence services. This indicates that, unlike NZ, Chinese govt departments and/or private sector do not necessarily communicate well with each other or are transparent to each other. This is unfortunate.

    14. By Warren Thomson on Mar 29, 2012 | Reply

      I’m enjoying a blog which offers intelligent analysis instead of the usual array of uninformed vitriol. But I would like to point out that to focus on China’s electronic espionage without mentioning the massive (and constantly growing) operations of the US Echelon system leaves much of the story unsaid. NZ’s Waihopai spy base is an integral part of an American net which sucks up incredible amounts of sensitive economic, diplomatic and military information. We should remember that it was American spying which the EU concluded was pervasive, illegal, and probably ddamaging to european business interests.

    15. By Wilson Chau on Mar 30, 2012 | Reply

      @ Warren – yeah I think that’s the point I was trying to make. About us and double standards. One could say that the US is the lesser evil and that it would not do anything to compromise our national security, unlike the Chinese. But that assumption is wrong. If anything, the US has proven to be one of the least reliable of “friends”, some could say stabbing us in the back for our opinions on nuclear-free policies and taking us to WTO and imposing unilateral sanctions on our lamb and kiwifruit exports when we were in the right the whole time. The Chinese, sure they don’t play by the rules all the time, but at least they havn’t given us a big slap on the face yet…

    16. By Joe Blow on Apr 1, 2012 | Reply

      I regret having missed out on all the fun with this article! I’ve been busy.

      I agree with Wilson about the xenophobia trap on the left being undesirable and often hypocritical, but I think that Gordon has a point about caution, especially when we are talking about the construction of something as strategically security sensitive as a telecommunications network by a company that could possibly be implicated in Chinese cyber attacks.

      @ Wilson

      Your allusions to other US companies with blood on their hands (by the way Foxconn is Taiwanese not US) is not quite the same as Huawei. These other companies are not building security sensitive infrastructure in New Zealand while domicle in a country that appears to be responsible for most cyber attacks on Western militaries to date.

    17. By Joe Blow on Apr 1, 2012 | Reply

      Correction = sorry I should have really written “Western governments” as opposed to “Western militaries” above.

    18. By Wilson Chau on Apr 2, 2012 | Reply

      My question then is why the NZ press is making this into a second Crafar debacle? Its not like Huawei or China has exactly broken any rules yet or have compromised our security. All the Chinese have done is express an interest to bid.

      Look, if security and human rights are reasons to exclude Huawei, then let’s say no to Huawei. But you don’t need to trigger a media storm that carries a lot of anti-Chinese and nonsensical arguments to say no to the Chinese. Rather than completely excluding Huawei, which is an extreme measure (imagine saying no to Nokia, full stop, not even a chance) let them bid and have national security and ethical matters be two of several factors that come into play when considering a Chinese bid. To exclude the Chinese as an absolute and only course of action will only be interpreted by folks in China in the wrong way…

    19. By Joe Blow on Apr 2, 2012 | Reply

      @ Wilson

      Look there is some political scaremongering and racisim that tends to come from the left (i.e. Winston) in relation to China, but both Crafar farms and the Huawei bid involve strategic assets.

      1. The Crafar farms debacle is not just about it being a Chinese bid. It is about it being a foreign bid for farm LAND (one of our biggest farms) in a country where farming is the backbone of the economy. That’s why there’s an approval process through the OIO in the first place. It’s also complicated because Crafar farms is in receivership and the Chinese can afford to make an offer for the lot, while other bidders are forced to form a consortium. I’d have prefered the receivers to break them up, sell some to China, some to Iwi and hope that Michael Fay missed out…

      2. Huawei, unlike Nokia, is a telecommunications company that is domiciled in a country that is responsible for most of the cyber attacks on Western governments. In terms of making national security a factor, wouldn’t you expect our government to make that the overriding factor when determining whether to allow Huawei to construct our telecommunications network? National security is not a fator that should be wontonly balanced with other factors. It’s paramount! Nokia is a telecommunications manufacturer. Vodafone might be a better example. How would allowing Vodafone, Telecom, 2Degrees or some other foreign multinational telecommunications company to construct the network risk our national security in the same way that Huawei might?

      It’s not the same Wilson. It’s not even in the same ball park!

    20. By Wilson Chau on Apr 2, 2012 | Reply

      @Joe, Good stuff. Thanks.

      I am only playing devils advocate – I am more than convinced by the objective criteria that there are sufficient reasons for the decision to exclude Huawei.

      Nonetheless, the average New Zealand joe may not be able to differentiate the issues as clearly as either Gordon, you or I can. They will lump this into a “don’t trust China” box – the stigma and damage to China’s private and government sector has already been done. If only the media would be a bit more proactive in publishing a few good stories of NZ-China relations, of which there are many. Also, if NZ/Western journalists who write on these things actually speak to Chinese (diaspora or Chinese businessmen), consult their opinions, and even travel to China and observe Chinese business practice in action, perhaps they would be able to write more balanced articles as opposed to taking the word of Paul Buchanan or other pro-US academics and advisors as gospel.

    21. By Joe Blow on Apr 3, 2012 | Reply

      @ Wilson

      I agree there is often a tendency by the media to inflate the Chinese threat. It sells papers… The left love it because it meshes well with their endeavours to argue for increased protectionism.

      I think that there is one very good story about New Zealand-Chinese relations and it is a REAL Free Trade Agreement which has resulted in huge growth of New Zealand exports to China during a global recession. We could only be so lucky with an FTA with the US!

      Then there is the untold story of how little asset ownership China has in New Zealand compared with Australia (likely through their banks) and the UK and US, while 70% of government bonds are owned by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (the Benelux group). Hell any investment from China would only make the members of our foreign investors more diversified than it is now and less dependent on our traditional investors (i.e. our traditional Western Allies). Let’s admit it – we’re about as globally significant as the Ozzies’, Pommies’ and Yanks’ little bitch!

      Good talking to you Wilson.

    22. By Dave McArthur on Apr 4, 2012 | Reply

      Thank you Wilson Chau. I think you concerns are very valid and you should not undermine them by suggesting you are just playing Devil’s Advocate. I reread this article a couple of times because I rate Gordon as one of our best journalists and I could not believe its hostility to both New Zealand communities and to the Chinese people. Ever since Europeans learned of the notions of universal health, education and justice systems through the Jesuit chronicles of China in the 16th C our feudal overlords have attempted to diminish the Chinese people and fill us serfs with fears of the Yellow Peril. I concluded this article is just another example of this bigotry.
      Others have commented how, for instance, our information flows are monitored and controlled by the likes of the US Echelon system. This article has also to be seen in the context of the extraordinary collective silence of all our main media journalists concerning the lack of national security of nearly all our information systems now. A range of recent events combine to form an ugly trend if you love democracy:
      *The removal of Government funding of Adult Education classes.
      *The MediaWorks bailout ensures TV3 remains a sewer of violent and perverted images into our society, determining much of the fare on State owned television.
      *Banker owned transport pass systems like Snapper, of which Regional Councils have no control. (This has big implications for the deliverance of transport funds and the current bus route reviews.)
      *The massive Telcom broadband subsidy from the Government, which ensures Telecom’s bankers will control most of our broadband data in the future and can prevent communities developing independent, freehold networks that are not subject to perverted routing, monitoring, Rupert Murdoch and high fees. I doubt Gordon would have attacked our community owned networks as he did if he understood these issues.
      *The Electricity Industry Reforms, which are primarily about disenfranchising all New Zealanders and transferring the intelligence of the national and community electrical grids in this sector to bankers. The transfer of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Genesis Energy to this banking oligarchy more or less completes the process. Put simply, the proposed “sales” values only these systems for their nuts, bolts and wires value while the vast majority of their value lies in their information. The “sales” effectively transfer to these overseas bankers the control of how we design and use our dwellings, appliances and generation technology, how we develop our Civil Protection systems and how we care for our valleys, rivers and plains.
      *The recent elections, in which our journalists remained completely oblivious to the massive in-your-face yet subliminal campaign to ensure NZers voted in a Government that is dedicated to selling these SOEs. I refer to the Whatsmynumber and PowerShop campaign that assailed our senses at bus stops, websites, supermarkets, building hoardings and almost wherever we turned.
      *The Electricity Authority decision in 2011 that the corporations now own the information in the monitoring equipment in dwellings. (Previously dwelling occupiers owned this information and retained the democratic right to vote how it was used.)
      Set this article in the context of the collective inability of our journalists to investigate the gross effect of these subversions of our sovereignty by Anglo American interests and it does not seem helpful. I can only assume Gordon’s lack of concern that a Chinese company owns the Wellington region’s 230 volt grid is because he fails to understand that it too is primarily an information system.
      In kindness

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