Huawei NZ deputy chief executive Andrew Bowater has fighting words about Huawei's decision to sue the US government.

"We have drawn this line in the sand to say 'We're not just going to roll over and take this'," he tells the Herald.

Overnight, the Chinese tech giant said it was launching a US court challenge to an update of the National Defense Authorisation Act, signed by US President Donald Trump last year, a law that labels the company a security risk.

The new law reinforced a series of measures to limit Huawei's access to the American market for telecom equipment, many of which pre-date Trump.


Huawei says the law is unconstitutional, undermines market competition and is not based on fact.

A number of security commentators, including New Zealand's Dr Paul Buchanan, have raised fears about Huawei colluding with the Chinese government on eavesdropping technology.

But Bowater says, "We have done nothing wrong, there has never been any evidence of wrongdoing provided by any government around the world - let alone the US. We open ourselves up to more scrutiny than anyone else. If there's evidence there, put it up - but we know there isn't. We've done nothing wrong."

Although Huawei is going down the legal challenge path in the US, Bowater indicates things are on a more level course locally.

"I'm still confident with the process that's ongoing, that we can still get a really good outcome for New Zealand," he says.

On November 28, Spark revealed the GCSB had blocked it from using Huawei equipment for its 5G mobile network upgrade because of "significant national security risks."

The spy agency did not detail those risks.

Spark spokesman Andrew Pirie says the GCSB has shared information with the telco. However, he can't comment on the nature of that information because it is classified.


On a phone conference with analysts shortly after Spark released its half-year result on February 20, managing director Simon Moutter again lamented the GCSB's decision - but also said his company could meet its target to offer its first 5G service on time and budget by working with US company Cisco, Sweden's Ericsson and other vendors.

If Treaty claim spectrum auction issues are resolved in time, Spark wants to launch its first 5G network service by July 1 next year.

Asked if he's worried about other company's jumping in well Huawei is sidelined, Bowater says initial 5G projects will be relatively modest in scope. It will take several years for 5G to go mainstream he says - a reasonable assumption given it too Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees several years to fill out their initial 3G and 4G rollouts to full network upgrades.

"We have done nothing wrong, there has never been any evidence of wrongdoing provided by any government around the world - let alone the US," Huawei NZ deputy chief executive Andrew Bowater says.

GCSB Minister Andrew Little and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have both maintained that the GCSB's vetting of network upgrades is project-based; there is no Huawei ban per se.

The ball is in Spark and Huawei's court to re-submit a 5G upgrade proposal that addresses the GCSB's security concerns.

Pirie says Spark is still assessing whether it will re-submit.

Could there be factors in play that are beyond the scope of any technical tweaks?

Asked if Huawei thought political and xenophobic factors are in play, Bowater responds, "We're not stupid ... We know we have to go that extra mile to prove ourselves."