More bad news for Chinese firms as Japan government reportedly plans to halt equipment purchases
Japan has reportedly become the latest in the growing number of countries to reject networking equipment made by China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE.
The move comes amid growing concern among intelligence officials that the equipment could be compromised by the Chinese government for spying purposes – a charge that Huawei has always rejected.
Earlier this week BT announced it would relegate Huawei equipment to non-core parts of its upcoming 5G network, and it will also begin to remove Huawei kit from core elements of the existing 3G and 4G network in the UK.
News that Japan was planning to ban government purchases of equipment from Huawei and ZTE was revealed by Reuters, which cited unnamed sources.
The move is apparently designed to strengthen Japan’s cyber defences in the coming years.
Reuters reported that the Yomiuri newspaper has written that the Japanese the government was expected to revise its internal rules on procurement as early as Monday.
The Japanese government reportedly does not plan to specifically name Huawei and ZTE in the revision, but will put in place measures aimed at strengthening security that apply to the companies, a person with direct knowledge and a person briefed on the matter told Reuters.
Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, reportedly declined to comment.
However he noted that the country has been in close communication with the United States on a wide range of areas, including cybersecurity.
“Cybersecurity is becoming an important issue in Japan,” he told a regular news conference. “We’ll take firm measures looking at it from a variety of perspectives.”
It is worth noting that the US government has already asked its allies not to use equipment from Huawei.
And a US delegation visited Europe earlier this month to express the country’s concerns to government officials and telecommunications companies about the use of Huawei kit.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed “serious concern” about the reports, Reuters said.
The essence of China-Japan business and economic cooperation is mutual benefit and win win, and both companies have legally operated in Japan for a long time, he told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
“We hope the Japanese side can provide a fair competition environment for Chinese companies operating in Japan and not do anything to harm bilateral cooperation and mutual trust.”
But its protests seem to be falling on deaf ears. Last week New Zealand became the latest to clamp down on the use of Huawei kit.
Senior officials in Germany have also recently urged the German government to ban the use of Chinese equipment, like that from Huawei, in their 5G networks.
Meanwhile the British government in November had written to telcos, warning them against using equipment makers such as Huawei when rolling out 5G networks, because of an ongoing security review of those Chinese firms.
Canada is thought to have refused to allow Huawei to be involved with the construction of a government communications network.
The US has already largely barred Huawei from supplying to the government, and has placed restrictions on the sale of smartphones made by Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers.
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