New Zealand blocks China's Huawei from planned 5G roll out

The decision comes as Western governments are increasingly wary about possible Chinese espionage through Huawei. New Zealand mobile provider Spark said it would still roll out 5G by July 2020.

New Zealand's intelligence agency on Wednesday blocked mobile operator Spark from using equipment from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in its planned 5G roll out, citing "a significant network security risk."

The move follows similar action by Australia earlier this year as Western powers are increasingly concerned about growing Chinese influence in the Pacific.

Read more: China and Australia compete for influence in the Pacific

The United States has pressed allied governments to ensure wireless and internet providers not use equipment from Huawei, one of the world's largest telecommunications companies. Huawei was founded in 1987 by a former People's Liberation Army officer.

China Huawei Ren Zhengfei

Ren Zhengfei, a former People's Liberation Army engineer, is the founder and CEO of Huawei.

In the statement, Spark said that the decision by the Government Communications Security Bureau was "disappointing," but that it would not impact the launch of its 5G network by July 2020. The company said it had planned to use Huawei 5G equipment for its Radio Access Network, which involves cell tower infrastructure. 

Read more: ZTE, Huawei bans: Genuine security concerns or part of China trade spat?

New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia. China has long denied that Huawei-made equipment could be used as a backdoor for unauthorizied intelligence or espionage.

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