Japanese government to stop purchasing Huawei and ZTE equipment: sources
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan plans to ban government purchases of equipment from Chinese companies Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp to bolster its defenses against intelligence leaks and cyberattacks, sources told Reuters.
Chinese tech companies are under intense scrutiny from Washington and some high-profile allies over their ties to the Chinese government, fueled by fears they could be used by Beijing for spying.
A government ban in Japan will come after Huawei was already barred from the US market and after Australia and New Zealand blocked it from building 5G networks. Huawei has repeatedly insisted that Beijing has no influence over it.
The Yomiuri newspaper, which first reported news of Japan’s planned ban earlier on Friday, said the government must revise its internal procurement rules as early as Monday.
The government does not plan to specifically name Huawei and ZTE in the review, but will put in place security-enhancing measures that apply to businesses, a person with direct knowledge and knowledge of the matter said.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga declined to comment. But he noted that the country was in close communication with the United States in a wide range of areas, including cybersecurity.
“Cybersecurity is becoming an important issue in Japan,” he said at a regular press conference. “We will take firm action by looking at it from different angles.”
ZTE declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately comment.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed “serious concern” about the information.
The essence of China-Japan trade and economic cooperation is mutual benefit and win-win, and the two companies have been operating legally in Japan for a long time, he said at a daily press briefing in Beijing.
“We hope the Japanese side can provide a fair competition environment for Chinese enterprises operating in Japan and do nothing to harm bilateral cooperation and mutual trust.”
Huawei supplies certain network equipment to Japanese private telecom operators NTT Docomo and KDDI Corp.
And SoftBank Group Corp has a long-standing relationship with Huawei – which in 2011 became the first Chinese company to join Japan’s conservative business lobby Keidanren – and has partnered with it for 5G trials.
“The government will not buy where there are security concerns, but it is difficult to restrict purchases by private companies,” one of the sources said.
Docomo and SoftBank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“While closely observing the changes, we will consider appropriate measures,” a KDDI spokeswoman said.
Some private companies elsewhere, however, have distanced themselves from Chinese firms.
In the United States, SoftBank’s wireless subsidiary Sprint Corp said it no longer sources equipment from Huawei or ZTE. SoftBank is trying to complete the sale of the unit to T-Mobile US Inc.
And Britain’s BT Group said on Wednesday it was removing Huawei’s equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the company in core parts of the upcoming network.
Shenzhen-listed ZTE shares rose 0.5% on Friday after falling 5.7% the day before amid a global stock sell-off sparked by the arrest in Canada of Huawei’s top executive in the request from the United States. Huawei is not listed.
Reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida and Yoshifumi Takemoto; Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Sijia Jiang, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Written by Sam Nussey and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Muralikumar Anantharaman