NZ cries foul over Huawei rugby quip

Huawei logo (File)
Huawei logo (File)

Wellington - Chinese telecom giant Huawei took a light-hearted dig on Wednesday at New Zealand's decision to ban it from the rugby-mad nation's 5G infrastructure development, leaving officials in Wellington unimpressed.

"5G without Huawei is like rugby without New Zealand," the company said in full-page advertisements published in major newspapers.

The unusual move comes after New Zealand's intelligence services in November rejected a plan to use Huawei technology in a next-generation 5G network, citing "significant national security risks".

It was part of a wave of bans on Huawei in a growing number of countries over fears the company's equipment could act as an espionage backdoor for China, which Beijing labels "groundless".

Huawei New Zealand said there was no evidence the company had done anything wrong and the ban may prevent Kiwis using the best possible network.

"We see this as a quirky way of getting that message across," it told Radio New Zealand.

"New Zealanders wouldn't accept second or third best on the rugby field, and they shouldn't have to put up with it when it comes to 5G."

However, New Zealand's government has been trying to downplay the ban in a bid to avoid offending its largest trading partner and was not laughing after Huawei put the issue back on the public agenda.

"It's not helping," the government minister Andrew Little who oversees intelligence services, told reporters.

"They can bark as long as they like, but we have decisions to make about New Zealand's national security interests. That's the only thing upon which we will make a decision."

The government has previously denied it acted because Huawei was Chinese and said there had not been any pressure to blacklist the company from its "Five Eyes" intelligence partners - the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
Australia 343/7
England 147/10
Voting Booth
What are your views on the World Rugby men's Player of the Year nominations for 2021 not including any Springboks?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
It's a disgrace! Both Siya Kolisi AND Eben Etzebeth should have been nominated!
39% - 5645 votes
Siya, at the very least, should have been included after a superb season
7% - 939 votes
Etzebeth has been SA's best player this year and should feel hard done by
21% - 2967 votes
Get over it! Moaning about this just sounds like sour grapes!
33% - 4798 votes