Huawei CEO rejects US criticism during NZ visit

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has pledged his company’s commitment to New Zealand’s digital economy during a visit to the country, and addressed comments from the US House Intelligence Committee claiming that the equipment 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.

Ren Zhengfei, CEO and founder of Huawei

Ren Zhengfei, CEO and founder of Huawei

“New Zealand is one of Huawei’s most important strategic markets and is very valuable to us,” he said. “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$ 139mn. The vendor added that it intends to employ more staff and increase its investments in New Zealand in the future.