Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Huawei Question

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  • Lew Stoddart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The ABC, wonderful public-service broadcaster that it is, puts up transcripts of its major programmes. The one I think the video links to (March 28) is here but contains no reference to NZ: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3466041.htm.

    The 7.30 archive is here, too -- the item on Huawei on 26 March contains no mention of NZ either. http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/archives/2012/730_201203.htm -- I guess it must be another segment, or another show. I don't have an account at Interest.co.nz, but perhaps someone can ask for clarification?

    L

    Wellington, NZ • Since Aug 2010 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    it’s not really [senior management's] job to know the difference,

    That is certainly the model in most large tech companies (and companies who are too far up themselves to realise that what they do is tech). I'd argue that the minority where that *isn't* the case and the boss has a detailed understanding and the ability to dig into the detail perform way better. Apple under Jobs was the obvious example. Or Microsoft, way back in the day. Or Google - who've dispensed with their generalist CEO and put the geeks back in control.

    The RNCs cost millions of dollars

    Not sure how you'd quantify the reputational and cash loss from the system failing. Certainly it's much worse for Telecom than Alcatel Lucent - if AL made the deployment decisions, they had a lot less skin in the game than Telecom. The other, less technical decision was to go for a bare 3G system - going with GSM/3G (which VF and 2 degrees have) would have cost more but would (I think) have been more resilient to failure - people cared (then) a lot more about losing text & voice than losing data.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4362 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    As with the Crafarms furore, the Huawei issue is at best a red herring as far as racism is concerned – anyone spot the inconsistency between the usual suspects happily playing the ‘Iwi/Kiwi’ card, and their seemingly John Frum-ish approach to Chinese (and Wall Street) money?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • martinb, in reply to Lew Stoddart,

    I would like to reserve the right to express concerns about the Chinese government (or one or another of their companies) and their actions without being called a Yellow Peril-shouting racist.

    Just like I would like to be able to criticise the Israeli government without being called a Jew-hater.

    +2 on Lew…

    we’re not in China yet Dr [insert name here]

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 156 posts Report Reply

  • martinb, in reply to DeepRed,

    all racism is equal, just some racism is more equal than others methinks...

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 156 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Whatever happened to Tze Ming Mok? Can we beg her to come back and write?

    Might be an interesting to the Pakuranga and Ilam view of China...vaguely related topic-The Finnish Prime Minister was down here a few years back digging hobbits wasn't she?

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 156 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to DeepRed,

    anyone spot the inconsistency between the usual suspects happily playing the ‘Iwi/Kiwi’ card, and their seemingly John Frum-ish approach to Chinese (and Wall Street) money?

    Your recent online comments re. the 'honorary white' status of cashed-up Japanese in apartheid era South Africa, while Chinese remained coloured due to their lesser economic clout, did spring to mind.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3328 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to martinb,

    all racism is equal, just some racism is more equal than others methinks…

    Too true. It’s not a new issue either. And when it's cranked up to 11...

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Your recent online comments re. the ‘honorary white’ status of cashed-up Japanese in apartheid era South Africa, while Chinese remained coloured due to their lesser economic clout, did spring to mind.

    What also springs to mind is Amy Chua's World On Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, which explores the flashpoints of 'market-dominant minorities'.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4064 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to martinb,

    digging hobbits

    Where were they buried?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4362 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to DeepRed,

    anyone spot the inconsistency between the usual suspects happily playing the ‘Iwi/Kiwi’ card, and their seemingly John Frum-ish approach to Chinese (and Wall Street) money?

    You know, Red, I could say right back at ya to so-called "progressives" who don't have too many qualms about singing from the same hymn book as Winston First. It's a good rule of thumb to assume Peters is lying as soon as his lips start to move, but I expect marginally better from the Greens. (At the moment, I've put any expectations of Labour on hiatus. They'll get their shit together soon enough.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    C,mon Craighy . You know that National would running the same lines on the 'yellow peril' if they were in opposition right now . Ask me how I know that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 204 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    It's a good rule of thumb to assume Peters is lying as soon as his lips start to move

    Whereas the PM shouldn't have to suffer evidence-free allegations, for some reason.
    ;)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to 3410,

    Whereas the PM shouldn’t have to suffer evidence-free allegations, for some reason.
    ;)

    Yeah, 3410, please find another subject to troll me on -- because I suspect I've seen Peters' malice and dishonesty at much closer quarters than you.

    C,mon Craighy . You know that National would running the same lines on the ‘yellow peril’ if they were in opposition right now . Ask me how I know that.

    When your point shows up, drop me a line.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I suspect I've seen Peters' malice and dishonesty at much closer quarters than you.

    I've seen it from pretty close myself, but - how do I put this politely? - I wouldn't turn my back on Key either.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lew Stoddart,

    But that’s just the thing: the nature of the Chinese government-industrial complex means you really can’t say this with any great certainty.

    Really? Because that's not what I see.

    Somebody up thread already mentioned Huawei's scaling down of it's business in Iran for fear it's Iran operations would impede it from doing business in the West. How does that represent it being a front for advancing Chinese government geostrategic interests?

    If you've read much about China business, you'd know how much harder it is for private companies to get loans from banks. SOEs get pretty much all the cash they want.

    The China I see is a mess of tensions between private, public and state; central, provincial and local; individual and collective; free expression (yes, I did just type that) and toeing the official line; ethnic/cultural/religious and regional/provincial identity and nationhood; CCP factions, PLA factions, the half dozen-odd legal minor parties and somewhat less legal political movements; generations; individual and family/clan greed and the public good. Why anybody thinks Hu Jintao barks an order and one and a half billion people instantly jump, I don't know. I do know the response is just as likely to be mockery or bemusement as obedience.

    So, yeah, I fail to see how a private company based in Shenzhen must be a front for CCP plans to snoop on anybody.

    Then again, living inside the GFW I'm already subject to CCP electronic snooping, so it's not like I'd notice the difference.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1966 posts Report Reply

  • Lew Stoddart, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Chris, I agree with practically all of that. But you mischaracterise my position: I’m not arguing that everything is micromanaged by a tiny cabal at the nerve centre. I’m arguing that with China’s economy, political and industrial system and international relation networks being pretty opaque – part by design, part by circumstance – it’s extremely difficult to rule the possibility out.

    I’m not arguing that Huawei is Evil Inc. I’m not even saying the ASIO position is correct. I haven’t any information upon which to judge either of those. I’m saying the concerns apparently held by ASIO probably oughtn’t be discarded out of hand, and unless the NZ government has some decent grounds to hold a different view, they should probably consider those concerns. And if the NZ government does have such grounds, I’d rather like the minister to tell us – or even just hint to us – what they are.

    I’m actually not arguing very much at all that’s controversial, and I’m puzzled why people think it is.

    L

    Wellington, NZ • Since Aug 2010 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lew Stoddart,

    Yeah, fair enough. I misinterpreted your comment, sorry.

    And if the NZ government does have such grounds, I’d rather like the minister to tell us – or even just hint to us – what they are.

    I wholeheartedly agree, but I hold no hope of that happening.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1966 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Lew Stoddart,

    Frankly, ASIO has no credibility, Lew, it's been a simple mouthpiece for US TLA agencies for years. And the US government has shown it's not only not averse to acting falsely in the interests of US corporations, it regards it as business as usual.

    ETA By which I mean a US/Aus opinion is actually no reason to take anything seriously. Let's take the UK opinion (and many others around the world) just as seriously, where they have no problem with Huawei gear.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1769 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    ETA By which I mean a US/Aus opinion is actually no reason to take anything seriously. Let’s take the UK opinion (and many others around the world) just as seriously, where they have no problem with Huawei gear

    And the UK scrutiny of Huawei has been intensive, to put it mildly. I honestly am surprised at the way the Greens -- and Gordon Campbell -- have acted here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18521 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    The China I see…

    I really like this little summary. It’s how it appears to me too. We’re none of us perfect, but there appears to be a directionality in the approach of businesses in China towards greater transparency. They are arguably under greater scrutiny than businesses operating in Europe or the United States.

    We are working with an electronics company in China at the moment, and I’ve been impressed with their no nonsense approach, and quite amazing can do attitude. Quite a good fit with the people we have working on it here. It helps that we have a Chinese national working with us of course. Communication being the key.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to nzlemming,

    sic int...

    By which I mean a US/Aus opinion is actually
    no reason to take anything seriously.

    I feel they just base their expectations of others behaviours
    on how they act themselves:
    "well of course if there is a chance to insert a hidden 'backdoor'
    or eavesdrop, we would, so why wouldn't anyone else?"
    or as with Iran - "We (and Israel) run top secret weapons programs
    so Iran must be, right?"
    "We invade and tinker with other countries' politics, doesn't everyone?"
    - and we all know how close the Indian Ocean is to the US, so of course they are interested in 'defending' it, along with our compliant Aussie friends!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    - and we all know how close the Indian Ocean is to the US, so of course they are interested in 'defending' it, along with our compliant Aussie friends!

    NZ should shoulder some of the blame. As someone noted around 15 years back, when the Australian Navy moved its submarine HQ from Sydney to Rockingham on the Indian Ocean, presumably NZ was no longer seen as a significant threat.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3328 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to nzlemming,

    ETA By which I mean a US/Aus opinion is actually no reason to take anything seriously.

    No, we're talking about agencies whose case for something as non-trivial as going to war a decade back was, shall we say, not entirely sound. Think that bears repeating. A lot.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11786 posts Report Reply

  • Paul G. Buchanan,

    Just one small correction to what seems to be a general belief. The CIA did not advise the Bush 43 administration that Saddam had WMD. To the contrary. Its senior analysts told then CIA-director George Tenet and the NSC that Saddam had some old stockpiles that were deteriorating to the point of dangerous unreliability and that they would only be used in the event of an attack. They also said that he had no nukes. Cheney and Rumsfeld were not happy with that and ordered Tenet to cherry-pick snippets of a number of analyses done over the previous decade in order to make a case for war. Many of the cherry-picked analyses were of the "what if" and game scenario variety rather than hard expositions of known facts (since it is the analysts responsibility to futures forecast a range of possible scenarios).

    That cherry picked "evidence" was provided to the hapless Colin Powell, who was kept out of the loop by Tenet and so believed that the cut and paste reports that he was provided represented the true thoughts of the analytic community. Rumsfeld's minions in OSD then piled on doctored imagery to support the case, all of which was bolstered by the claims of some dubious Iraqi exiles who said that they were in meetings with Saddam and his military leaders when discussing how to use WMD. These claims were subsequently found to be lies.

    Then Karl Rowe got Scooter Libby to out former human intelligence collector Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband's (a former ambassador) report that Iraq had no huge yellowcake supplies that it was refining into weapons grade material. Outing Plame, a twenty year non-official cover (NOC) operator, exposed all of the intelligence networks she had cultivated in the ME during her time there (mostly posing as an oil executive). Within days many of her contacts in places like Syria and Egypt simply vanished.

    My point being that, from my experience in and outside the machine, the intelligence community works hard to get the facts without prejudice. They report the good news, the bad news and everything in between to the political decision-makers who oversee them. The decision-makers make the final call on any assessment, and should take responsibility for that call if things turn to custard.

    Bush 43 did not, and instead blamed the intelligence for "faulty" information. That, coupled with the Plame outing, caused an open revolt within the clandestine services that only began to be repaired once he left office.

    The moral of the story is that although Western professional intelligence agencies operate in a highly political environment, their relative autonomy and neutrality when making threat assessments is vital for strategic planning and appropriate tactical responses. Prejudice does not fit into this picture--it is professionally anthem to color reports wit racial or ethnic prejudice. What politicians do with the information provided is another matter, and as I said before, they often are not as honest, dispassionate or professional when doing so.

    I realize that there are many who think that it is all a matter of US corporate interests pulling the strings to secure market share in the face of foreign competition, but from my perspective the issue is a bit more complex than that.

    Be they right or wrong, the US and Australian assessments on Huawei should have been shared with the GCSB and SIS, who presumably informed the PM about the concerns in some classified detail. It would therefore be nice to know if this did in fact happen and if so, why the PM chose to ignore those concerns. He may have strong reason to support the Huawei contracts, but it would be good to hear how he came to that position in light of the suspicions about Huawei serving as a SIGINT front of the PRC.

    Singapore/NZ • Since Apr 2011 • 13 posts Report Reply

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