Huawei the real problem

The Green Party is calling for an investigation into Huawei, the Chinese corporation that has contracts to supply parts for the Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiatives after Australia blocked them from participating in their broadband project. This has been raised in the NZ media and Russel has written to the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (of which he is a member) to request that they look at the concerns raised about Huawei. Some people are dismissing our concerns so I want to clarify our position.

Our call for an investigation into Huawei being part of the Ultra-Fast Broadband roll out and Rural Broadband initiative is not because Huawei is Chinese. It is because of the links between Huawei and the authoritarian Chinese Government. The Chinese Government does not allow democracy or free speech, it routinely imprisons and tortures its citizens without trial, kills and imprisons Tibetans and any other minority groups that dare to speak out about their situation. It is engaged in systematic spying on its own citizens as well as dissidents overseas as well as supporting other undemocratic regimes pursue their own surveillance operations. It is also well established it launches cyber-attacks on other countries, including New Zealand.

We have serious concerns about the influence the Chinese Government has over Chinese companies (see The Party by Richard McGregor). The Chinese Government is aggressively pursuing a strategy to buy up land and infrastructure not just in New Zealand but around the globe. Do we really want to sell off our land, our assets and our infrastructure to companies that operate under the direction of the Chinese Government? The US government operating in a society with more democracy and free speech manages to force companies to hold and turn over data and information. The Chinese government has much more ability to apply pressure to companies operating in China.

There have been genuine concerns raised that if we give Huawei access to all the data on our broadband network then the Chinese dictatorship will gain full access to all data in NZ travelling on the network. That seems to me a reason for concern and for investigation.

Being opposed to the Chinese Government is not to be anti-Chinese any more than our vocal criticism of the US Government foreign policy over many years makes us anti-American or our vocal opposition to the dominance of the Aussie banks makes us anti-Australian.

We have equally raised concerns about US companies in the past as they hand data over to the US Government which has its own problems.

Our priority is making sure this significant taxpayer investment isn’t opening ourselves up to cyber-attack or spying by foreign governments, from whatever nation they may be.

49 Comments Posted

  1. “Our call for an investigation into Huawei being part of the Ultra-Fast Broadband roll out and Rural Broadband initiative is not because Huawei is Chinese. It is because of the links between Huawei and the authoritarian Chinese Government.”

    This is a real piece of crap. If the Green Party, New Zealanders and the New Zealand government truly dislike the authoritarian Chinese government so much, New Zealand should break all diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. It’s only a matter of degrees following that to then declare war. If a group people hate a government of another country so much, what’s stopping the two countries to come to blows? There won’t be any love lost. This argument about hating their government but being fair to their people is bull and any person with half a brain can clearly see that. There has to be repercussions from saying outrageous stuff like that. I’d expect that from a drunk staggering out of a pub to mouth off shit like that. But coming from an organization that wants to lead NZ, that has to attract repercussions.

  2. “sqllite requires a seperate GUI creation software.”
    Actually you can do everything that sqlmaestro does using OpenOffice, which is free. This is getting pretty off topic, but it’s actually much better practice to keep your database routines and your GUI as separate as possible. i.e. you should be able to completely replace your database engine without touching the GUI.

  3. dbuckley,

    not making use of Clarion then you are working too hard.

    At US$2000 per enterprise edition PLUS yearly (?) fees of a minimum of US$300 (or up to US$1000)?

    I dont think so.

    MS Access 2010 for a one off cost NZ$300 and with a application bank now with over 20 years worth of personalised business templates ready for use, to change to Clarion does not make for profitable trading.

    Alpha software is much better and cheaper but not as cheap as MS Access.

  4. Jeremy,

    sqllite requires a seperate GUI creation software.

    Not free but around NZ$300 (same as MS Access which includes the database engine)

    sqllite is free for non commercial operations.

    I sell my applications.

    There are heaps of database engines out there such as firebird, but each requires a GUI creation tool.

    Filemaker is an option but is even clunkier then MSAccess

  5. Even if you’re really stuck with Windows: you’ll get more done if you use some database other than MS Access. Sqlite is completely cross-platform, completely free, and is smaller, faster, and more stable and secure than Access. It does lack network transparency but if you need that then what are you using Access for?

  6. The problem is that the herd chooses to follow the instructions of the herders and placidly enters the pens… and the individual has little chance to escape the slaughter.

    The current state of linux is that it could support most SME applications pretty nicely. The software written for it however, is mostly freeware and unsupported.

    It is not the responsibility of the individual business to break out, and no sofware development house is going to make a dime on a business app written for linux in anything less than a decade. There are individual replacement applications, but the evolution of Windows as “the business solution” has been long enough that there is more inertia than any normal individual customer can overcome.

    One end-around however, is in places like Android, where linux is at the core and the customer base is growing like the proverbial. Oracle could (if Ellison regards it as important enough) create a set of apps and with the Oracle DB as a backbone running on linux, have an MS free environment without that sort of transition stress.

    The other possibility is that someone large enough gets fed up enough to commission the development/port of an integrated business application suite on/to linux.

    Wouldn’t be that hard, nor that expensive. The core SW is not written in “Windows”, it merely relies on it too much.

    Still, it would take a decade to get any market share at all. At least.

    Microsoft has set software development back at least five years…. maybe more.

  7. Jeremy,

    Windows can run MS Access” is a valid and sufficient reason for putting all your copies of Windows in a rocket and firing it into the sun.

    It is not my copies of windows that is the concern, it is the copies of windows on my customers computers. They dont run Linux or Apple so for me to write productivity software that my customers can utilise, it needs to be able to run on their computers.

    Hence MS Access.

    Simply install a runtime version (free) of MS Access and my programmes run seamlessly be it for timekeeping, project planning, quote and job sheets, contact management, invoicing software or a combination of these.

    My customers are All SME’s and run what is easily purchased for the least amount of hassle. They are not interested in being windows free, just what software works best for them to run their business.

    Windows is bloated and caters for just about each plug and play eventuality. Exactly the reason many people like it. More important to focus on the business then worry about the “right” or “best” computer operating system and application compatability.

    Commercially windows is more acceptable for the SME and that is the market I operate in.

  8. Seems the Green Party are the only ones in Parliament to ever raise questions about human rights abuses overseas anywhere. Good on you guys.

    Huawei spying seems unlikely, but is an “investigation” too much to ask?

  9. Sorry, but you are really barking up the wrong tree with this one. We can get the code that runs the system and a half brained engineer should be able to tell you whether “strange packets” are being sent out of the system or send it to the boys at Rakon to check if any “strange chips” are in their boxes. We have the expertise to detect the intrusion and on top of that the Chinese would have to be mentally retarded to even try and put anything like that in their systems as it would absolutely ruin any chance of winning future projects anywhere. This is paranoia in the extreme from America/Aussie, so much so that it is probably fake paranoia – they want someone in their backyard to build it and are coming up with stupid reasons to exclude the cheapest/best bidder.

    There is a big difference from external hacker attacks from competing countries (do you think the US doesn’t do the same to Iran and probably China?) and network level security. Virtually every smartphone (a network connected computer that has the ability to record calls and track locations) is built in China. You think we should ban them too? Retarded paranoia.

  10. As someone who’s actually in China I can say that they have all these strict laws, but the only one that’s even remotely enforced is “don’t be too loud when you’re criticising the government”
    Gerrit: “Windows can run MS Access” is a valid and sufficient reason for putting all your copies of Windows in a rocket and firing it into the sun.

  11. “Being opposed to the Chinese Government is not to be anti-Chinese any more than our vocal criticism of the US Government foreign policy over many years makes us anti-American or our vocal opposition to the dominance of the Aussie banks makes us anti-Australian.”

    Indeed, consistent xenophobia is laudable for any nationalists. Local companies good, wholesome, embracing the values of Aotearoa. Foreign ones, devils, evil intent, alien and likely to attack the very essence of the country.

    It’s the game of NZ First.

    The irony is that you oppose heavy handed intrusive government, except of course almost all of your policies are about the state doing more.

    As an aside of course, China does have a major human rights issue, yet it is worth acknowledging that the human rights and freedom of speech situation in China is the best it has been for over 70 years. People do protest, people do speak freely online and the arbitrariness of the state has been notably declining. China 40 years ago was totalitarian, destitute and terrifying intrusive in its interference in its citizens’ day to day life – today it is like the dawn upon the darkness, not daylight yet, but a definite contrast.

    If you really want to have some targets, make them Iran and North Korea, or does their strident and vehement anti-Americanism please you just enough to prefer just to not get too bothered about them?

  12. I’m not particularly worried about the Chinese government accessing data through Huawei, any more than I worry about data being accessed through any other company (which isn’t something I worry about much). I do think that China’s strict controls on the media and on investigative journalism, and state-corporate links, mean China-based companies are rather a different kettle of fish to corporations from some other countries.

    I recall some MFAT bureaucrats assuring me that the China FTA wouldn’t prevent us blocking goods made by forced labour or suchlike, then rather awkwardly agreeing that there was no way to find out what products were produced by such methods and nothing in the agreement to allow us access or seek out such information.

  13. I have written to Gareth Hughes directly outlining my concerns with his opinion piece and how it reflects on the Green Party. Huawei is a reputable company who’s motives are no different, no better and no worse, to Cisco, Juniper, Nokia, 3com, Ericsson etc. ALL of the major companies make good products while having skeletons in their closet. They are ALL equally dodgy when the remote possibilities and conspiracy theories (and some true stuff as well) is considered. At the end of the day there is only the same old options for this sort of equipment so may as well bite tongue and get on with it.

  14. Gerrit

    If they wanted a free DB there are several for Linux, which is quite competitive in the DB market. Built in and as good as or better than Microsoft’s offering. One is mindful that Oracle still exists as a competitor to them. They don’t have to integrate a DB into their software. The only impediment to the CAD people doing what THEY do is a lack of incentive to do it… or some under the table deals that MS has negotiated to keep them from doing it.

    There exists a very usable Linux based product to replace almost any MS product. The Cad-Cam and some other 3d Graphics and Gaming software is mostly for other platforms.

    Windows 7 – you get to pay for an OEM copy when you buy a new machine.

    If you don’t have $1200 for new boxes but keep swapping motherboards you are stuffed. People like me with half a dozen older machines? We are whacked hard until the kids go to Uni. The had a K-13 program which I just learned about, but it’s over.

    I reckon I have to wait for a MB replacement cycle buy OEM and hope I don’t ever need more. Shopping around it is true I can find some deals on the OEM stuff… but the delta in price I ran into?

    That’s real too. I don’t need to do a half day long search to find the best price for some standard SW. The pricing is ugly. The comparison to the situation in the US, sickening.


  15. Problem with the software vendors is that they utilise a lot of other MS products built into the operating system.

    EdgeCam for example uses the free to download sql lite (used to be MSaccess) for its data storage. No doubt some parts of the calculator kernel, etc.

    For them to intergrate those functions as stand alones into their software is not cost effective when it ships for free with Windows.

    Windows is bloated because they try and intergrate every eventuality into their operating system.

    From a marketing point of view they should strip out Windows back to basics and give away an open source vesion (but still sell their closed OEM and full vesions).

    They could work with all software suppliers to install just these extra bits required to run the software on individual machines. Buy the extras on an as needed basis. Much like Apps for Apple and Android.

    You would end up with one fast linux like machine.

  16. There is one CADCAM program of any possible use for Apple. None for Linux/Unix at any price on any system any more.

  17. Gerrit – I knew you’d come back with that.

    You’re right but wrong.

    The development costs are evenly spread across the planet, not more in NZ than in the USA.

    In Linux the only problems would be the CAD and probably Access and Accounting.

    Access and the accounting SW can be replaced with systems that do the same things under linux .. there WOULD be transitional development, after which it would cost very little.

    For CAD and certain specialized graphics the vendors of the software have chosen the single platform. I doubt you can get a version that runs on Apple, can you? I suspect Microsoft made them a deal they can’t refuse to get that to happen, but it could be just the natural effect of the MS monopoly.

    Where that sort of functionality is required one has to have Windows. At least until one of the larger CAD players does a port.

    So I wouldn’t expect to be able to have NONE, but I’m blessed if I understand how they come to be required for Word Processing, Spreadsheets and internet connectivity.

    Not required on most desktops. Simply not required on I think, 95% of computers out there.

    Useful for games,and CAD, and virus propagation and the MS bottom line.

    No… I don’t know what the government IT bill is… and I used to work in those places. I simply know that unless I want to do CAD type work or play a game, I don’t ever have to leave my Ubuntu. I know that I plug in my bubblejet and my laserjet and I don’t need a CD that comes with it to install. The second turned up when I plugged it in. I write and do spreadsheets in OpenOffice. Exports directly to PDF. (Adobe is honest). Run flash programs off the web transparently. Databases. Web applications and support.

    MS has locked in a lot because it has locked in businesses. It would be a big wrench to yank their paws from the government purse and it would undoubtedly cost MORE in the first 3-5 years of the change.

    After that we’d have settled into the different environment and it would start costing way, way, less.

    As well as being a lot less fragile.

    If MOST computers are running something else and the cash cow has dried up MS will have to charge a lot more per seat for the OS… and that in turn will eventually drive Solidworks or someone to do the port.

    I don’t see that. I see MS dropping their price to prevent wholesale migration away from their system.

    But you’re going to be the last to leave in any case. 🙂


  18. BJ,

    The PRODUCTION cost of a Windows install disk is probably nigh on $10.

    You including development cost PLUS distribution into that figure? How about warranty provisions? Stock holdings?

    Problem with Linux that it is developer specific for each situation. For example my software requirements are

    SolidEdge (3D design solid modeling)
    EdgeCam CADCAM software (2.5D design and machine toolpath creator)
    MSAccess database (software development)
    MSPublisher (technical writing – adverts – brochures)
    SoThink (web page design)
    MSWord (general text)
    Thunderbird (email)
    Firefox (web browser)
    Cash Book Complete (accounting)
    Customised MSAccess Software (management – job tracking – purchasing – sales)
    Core FTP (web file transfers)
    DropBox (cloud file storage)
    Photoshop (photo management)

    And attached to computer

    A1 plotter
    A4 bubble jet
    RS 323 feedout
    2 monitors

    To set that up on a Linux box requires technical expertise to get it to run.

    In Windows it is ALL plug and play.

    it is the reason Linux will be better in large organisation where software requirements are basically open office, email clients and web browsing and administrated by a central IT department and yes, suitable for government departments.

    Start loading any number of other programmes and it becomes a major excercise.

    From a marketing perspecitive Windows has plug and play flexibility, that until Linux becomes commercial, will see it as the default operating system.

  19. Gerrit. The PRODUCTION cost of a Windows install disk is probably nigh on $10. The distribution cost of their updates is real enough, but that’s global. The NZ “distribution” center isn’t, it is a support center to allow them to manage the government business here.

    They make plenty of “profit” at the price they charge in the US. Our average income is about 28K vs 49K in the States. The “educational discounts” aren’t available until the kids go to University. ? … and they have the gall to complain about PIRACY?

    It is rank profiteering by a monopoly.

    Government should explain to them that every government agency in NZ would be shifting to Ubuntu or Red Hat “by lunchtime” if MS does not quit gouging NZ citizens. Now.

    Actually we should just do it.

    NZ is not a “cash cow” for them to milk.

    I was checking the discount price. They are very carefully controlling stuff like that with the base product.

    My “best bet” is to get someone in my family to buy me a copy and send it. The comparison was Amazon and Ascent if it matters.

  20. BJ,


    Simply because they run a profit centre in NZL. Much like every other business, if you have local distribution network, you have a higher cost.

    Higher costs are reflected in prices.

    Having said that I purchase MSAccess2010 and MSPublisher2010 as individual products at the same cost in NZL as in USA. You do need to shop around in NZL as costs can vary marketly. Cheapest at just under $300 each, most expensive $600 each.

    Parallel importing is the way to go for computer retailers and their customers.

  21. You’re on to a loser with this one , Gareth.

    This is absolutely a commercial pissing match, and NBN is the battleground.
    The GP should stay well away and try not to look hysterical.

  22. Seriously though… it’s bad enough what they charge in the USA… WHY IS IT 50% MORE HERE IN NZ?!!!


  23. Access to the code that runs the gear is not enough. Not if are a few bits of undocumented flash in the chips being used. I personally don’t know what the US motivation is… your theory is quite plausible though.


  24. True DBuckley , though it was made possible by the practice of building code for controllers on Windows boxes and moving that code to the controllers.

    The Stuxnet didn’t report back from the other side… I don’t think it could have, but I would expect that the folks who ran it knew where it was running.

    I write my own embedded code rather than trusting a controller, its logic and the “black box” automation that generates it on Windows.

    The mistake was to have a machine doing a critical job connected to the web. Compounded it by running Windows, and I know they did because the controller programming SW in question only runs on Windows.

    Speaking of which, I just checked the price of Windows 7 Home (not OEM). Here it is $350 (NZ), in the US $225 (NZ). I reckon they’re sending it by Victoria’s Secret Couriers… There are ripoffs and then there’s Microsoft pricing… wow!

  25. I trust sneakernet

    Stuxnet worm propogated straight through sneakernet. The Iranians thought it was a good isolation mechanism too.

    It is true that security in the electronic age is a problem. But if access to the network layer is the difference between “secure” and “not secure”, then there are other things problems to solve.

    The UK government has access to the code that runs the Huawei gear, I don’t see any reason why we cant share intelligence and code on that basis.

    The USA knows all this, but just dont want Huawei (or anyone similar) being successful on USA shores. There used to be a company called Motorola once. And another called Nokia (though not in US). Where are they now…? USA are trying to protect a market segment that is very sucessful and profitable. Wont work forever.

  26. This is why one should worry

    This isn’t about Juniper or Cisco. More than any other nation I am aware of China is “working” the web through the web… Echelon doesn’t rely (because it’s not US hardware in most countries) on hardware techniques, the Chinese do. Can’t trust the copy machine, can’t trust the scanner, can’t trust the network switch… and that’s simply how it works there.

    Not that the USA is any BETTER… they just use different methods to steal stuff and aren’t (because it is really a government thing) so interested in commercially sensitive info.

    You want secure ? Kelpie had it right up there at the top. Make it yourself. ANYONE else’s gear is subject to man-in-the-middle tricks, and I don’t put it past the Chinese to have a cyber warfare threat mode… can you imagine a subtle string of nonsense that, on a particular time and date turns all that hardware into junk?

    I don’t trust the US hardware either, to be sure. I trust sneakernet. I trust encryption before things get near the web.

    Putting sensitive data on “the cloud”, as the government was exploring earlier, is a no brainer…. as in nobody WITH a brain would consider it.

    Not that it really matters, as this government is no better than its predecessors at keeping data from getting away from it. Had the same problem with scientists at NASA. Understanding that “Nothing is Private” meme is a threatening sort of thing. You can go from happy to paranoid in a few heartbeats… but it isn’t really paranoia. There really are people out there trying to get your stuff (if you have anything worth getting).

    So encrypt like your life depends on it.

    In places like China it probably does.


  27. Rusell’s saying “if only you knew what I know” is about as irresponsible as you can get and is tantamount to releasing classified information. If he has discussed classified information with the Green Party Caucus, he should be charged. The statement in the media in itself makes a case for his membership of the Security Oversight Committee (or whatever it is called)to be immediately reviewed. If he can’t keep his mouth shut he should not be given access to sensitive information.

  28. “I believe the Green party is attempting to destabilise the NZ-China FTA & will use any pretext to do so.”

    I don’t think that is their plan, unfortunately.

  29. We DON’T have commercial interests to protect?

    You may have misunderstood what I said, which is my fault as I was not sufficiently clear.

    I’m talking about old school protectionism of suppliers here. Cisco, Juniper etc.

  30. I find it somewhat odd that you believe that we shouldn’t have anything to do with this company because the US and Australian governments don’t want to be involved with them.
    I can remember that the Green party policy used to rabbit on endlessly that NZ must have an independent foreign policy. I don’t remember any clause then that this applied except where we could bash the Chinese.
    I can also remember that both Belgium and France found Ahmed Zaoui guilty of supporting terrorism or something like that.
    The NZ Green party at the time didn’t say that because another country condemned Zaoui we should also do so. Of course Zaoui wasn’t Chinese.
    Why do I get the feeling that you are either rascist about the Chinese or that you only interest in the matter is to hit out at the National government?

  31. “The point is not to deny that there are bad things happening in China but that it is so disproportionately reported on.”

    Hardly. trying to get news of repression out of China is difficult and most media outlets don’t seem to be much interested except when there’s a huge blow-up. On-going repression barely rates a mention.

    For example – look at the well-known case of Assunge, quoted above, compared with the unknown cases of Uigher activists being extradited as I’ve linked to above.

  32. I believe the Green party is attempting to destabilise the NZ-China FTA & will use any pretext to do so.

  33. Better to concentrate on the powers, with the help of US corporates, to breech privacy, search and surveillance, bug and censor, that NACT have arrogated.

    Don’t see China, at present, trying to extradite a foreign citizen, Assunge, for blowing the whistle on their troops atrocities, or executing, redacting and imprisoning, overseas nationals outside their own shores.

    I thought new productive investment in NZ, rather than speculative buying of existing land or investments, is what we need.

  34. We DON’T have commercial interests to protect?

    Mon’ such leetle stuff we makes and you wants to let dem makes it ALL?

    We doan go der, no worries


  35. Words fail me.

    Huawei has been blocked in both Australia and the United States over security concerns and it’s hard to believe our security agencies know something about Huawei that Australia and the United States don’t,” said Green Party ICT spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

    Just because the Americans have commercial interests to protect, and the Australians are retarded, it doesn’t follow that we need to be retarded too.

  36. “The Green Party is calling for an investigation into Huawei, the Chinese corporation that has contracts to supply parts for the Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiatives after Australia blocked them from participating in their broadband project”

    Australia blocked them from their broadband project? The Greens are calling for and investigation in response?
    Seems entirely logical and reasonable to me. The rest is froth.

  37. The Green Party of New Zealand had never ever made any comment about the sale of land to foreign interests prior to the Crafar Farms incident. Quack.

  38. Making these spurious connections that a using highly regarded Chinese technology manufacturer somehow endangers the privacy if all data on New Zealand networks is drawing a long bow. Russel Normans comments on Morning report, saaying in veiled terms that he had heard dangerous top secret information through the intelligence committee about Huawei is also no grounds for these claims, or for calls for Huawei to be removed from involvement with these projects.

    In any case, the multiple claims made against the Chinese government about human rights abuses, spying and crackdowns, could as easily appy to the U.S.A, where this cooked secret intelligence likely comes from. Weapons of mass destruction anyone? The question to be asked is “who would benefit from this?” – the answer of course is US companies who cant compete any other way.

  39. If it’s Chinese, the Greens hate it.

    You’ll start attracting support from the extreme right xenophobes at this rate.

    Why didn’t you complain about Huawai when they installed the 2 Degrees network?

    Or helped with the vodophone network?

    we’re supposed to beleive that after all this work, the Greens are suddenly alarmed by Huawai who operate over 75% of the worlds countries.

    Just like you didn’t oppose mass buying of NZ farmland by Germans, Australians or Americans, but when the Chinese wanted just a fraction of what the others had already bought – the Greens jumped right in on them.

  40. Yes this is anti-Chinese! The fact you can’t see this just reflects the deep level of racism in NZ culture. The point is not to deny that there are bad things happening in China but that it is so disproportionately reported on. The land sales to foreign owners were in the vast majority to Western countries (I think it was only 0.2% to China) yet people are worried about the authoritarian control of NZ by China. Yet nobody seems to care about the US controlling NZ. How can this be explained? Which countries have recently committed the greatest of war crimes (that is according to the Nuremberg Principles ‘war of aggression’)? It is not China. And according to this article ( this deal might compromise our ability to be part of “the world’s most extensive eavesdropping system”, echelon, which it is Green Party policy to leave! So isn’t this deal a good thing? It seems to me jumping on this Huawei deal is just another case of cheap populism to get votes!

  41. I really don’t see the point of this.
    Most electronic computer, phone, internet, stuff be it American, Japanese or whatever is manufactured in China.
    If they want to bug it they could at source
    Either make your own or get over it.
    Making derogatory aspersions without alternatives is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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