Huawei NZ deputy MD Andrew Bowater has aggressively defended his company after various 5G knockbacks.
But his response to the UK decision to bar his company - and how it could play into its chances of beating its GCSB ban here - was surprisingly muted.
"5G technology is a great opportunity for New Zealand," Bowater told the Herald.
"However, it is not the top priority as we come out of Covid, and we understand this and have no intention of making this an issue right now."
What's going on here?
Huawei has switched its focus to the long game.
Now that Spark has turned to the GCSB-approved Nokia Networks and Samsung for its first wave of 5G mobile network upgrades (complementing incumbents Cisco and Ericsson at the "core" of its network), the Chinese telco giant is reconciled to being out in the cold, for the short term.
Huawei knows that 5G upgrades will take four or five years to complete - during which time there's lots of scope for the geopolitical situation to change.
There could even be a change of guard at the GCSB, where the current director-general, Andrew Hamilton, is so implacably opposed to Huawei's contention that the edge and core of a 5G network can be securely guaranteed, allowing the Chinese company to play in the former.
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And in the meantime, there's a rear-guard action to be fought over 4G, and avoiding the worst-case scenario of demands for Huawei gear to be ripped out of Spark and 2degrees 4G networks.
That bullet was dodged in the UK, where the FT reported telco executives were relieved that Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in the end, only demanded a ban on Huawei for new 5G networks, rather than the costly and time-consuming process of replacing 4G kit from the Chinese supplier in existing networks.
Bowater, sensibly, is keeping his head down to avoid inflaming that debate down under.
His company will do its bit to make sure telcos get the most out of existing networks, he said.
"We have been in the New Zealand market for 15 years and remain committed to New Zealand and our customers here. We are focused on making a positive contribution by working with our customers to help the Covid recovery by ensuring their networks continue to deliver great service to Kiwis."
Admittedly, it's partly forced by events, but the more patient and constructive approach that's more likely to yield a positive result long-term. Compare and contrast it with Huawei's earlier threat to pull out of NZ, which rubbed GCSB Minister Andrew Little the wrong way.
'Bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone'
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Huawei UK, Edward Brewster, said the 5G ban was driven by political rather than security concerns.
"This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone. It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide. Instead of 'levelling up' the government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider," Brewster said in a statement.
"We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK
"Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicised. This is about US trade policy and not security."
Meantime, Little reiterated after the UK decision that there is no ban against Huawei per se in NZ. Rather. the GCSB considers telcos' proposed network upgrades on a case-by-case, project-by-project basis.
By Hampton's stance, that the core cannot be isolated from the edge of a 5G network blocks Huawei's only real workaround, and does effectively ban the company. For now.