In a first, New Zealand’s intelligence agency has rejected a request put forth by service provider Spark New Zealand to introduce Huawei’s 5G technology in the country. Spark has said it would review the reasons behind the decline before considering next steps.

New Zealand’s decision comes at a time when Western countries are exercising caution over China’s possible involvement in telecommunication and mobile networks, while Huawei has denied any government involvement in their operations. The company has said it will actively address security concerns and will work collaboratively, adding that it has signed more than 20 5G contracts with carriers worldwide.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed serious concern and said China-New Zealand business ties were mutually beneficial and win-win. “We hope the New Zealand government provides a fair competition environment for Chinese companies operating in New Zealand, and does more to benefit bilateral mutual trust and cooperation,” as reported by CNBC.

Earlier, Australia banned Huawei from supplying 5G equipment, citing similar concerns. Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. government was trying to persuade companies in allied countries to avoid Huawei.

While Huawei has been involved in other telecommunications systems in New Zealand such as its 4G mobile network, and is investing $271.88mn into research and development, there is concern over 5G networks being introduced due to its technology that allows for every part of the network be accessed
This has mirrored Australian concerns that, with 5G, it was difficult to confine vendors considered high risk to a network’s less sensitive parts.