Trade minister defends Huawei deal, calls China tech firm transparent and not ‘forceful’

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meets Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei at the Huawei Beijing Research Centre in Beijing April 25, 2019. — Bernama pic
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad meets Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei at the Huawei Beijing Research Centre in Beijing April 25, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — Unlike the US, Malaysia has no security concerns over its deal with Huawei, the Chinese tech communication giant that International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking described in an interview with South China Morning Post (SCMP) as transparent and diplomatic.

“There is no issue when it comes to national security for us,” Leiking was quoted as saying in an interview with the Hong Kong daily published last night.

“That is more towards America, which has made allegations against Huawei. They know something that we don’t, but as far as we know, Huawei has been very open and they are not forceful either.”

The Penampang MP is currently in Beijing to attend the second Belt and Road Forum with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and several other Cabinet ministers.

Dr Mahathir had also visited Huawei’s booth at a roadshow for superfast wireless 5G technology here last week amid security concerns raised by Washington DC, which accused the Chinese company of espionage.

Dr Mahathir’s visit was quickly depicted by pro-Beijing media as a sign of trust in China’s companies.

At the same time, Leiking’s deputy Ong Kian Ming had praised Huawei’s investments in Malaysia, where the firm has located its South-east Asian regional headquarters.

Huawei has been here since 2001 and about 70 per cent of its staff are said to be Malaysians.

Leiking said both the government and Huawei have an understanding about security, but stressed that the firm will have to meet strict rules and regulations if it wants to do business here.

“And when you have friends that are not forceful, it tells you they know our security concerns, and we know our security needs too,” Leiking told SCMP.

Huawei is currently working with Malaysian operator Maxis on a 5G trial, a partnership it has repeated in other South-east Asian countries with key domestic players, SCMP reported.

This comes even as some of America’s allies have banned, limited or reviewed the firm’s involvement in their next-generation communications networks.

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