Chinese Firm Assures Solomons Of Cyber Security For Undersea Cable Project

Allegations had surfaced of a $6.5M political donation paid by Huawei to the ruling party in Honiara when the Solomons abruptly switched contractors

By Simon Abana

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 25, 2017) –  Huawei Technologies in an official statement released this week stated cyber security remains a top priority for the company.

“Cyber security remains a top priority at Huawei. We incorporate strict security protection into all of our business processes, and remain open to working with governments and industries to address global cyber security challenges together,” the statement reads.

Early this week, Huawei rejected allegations made in Australian media regarding the Solomon Islands undersea cable project.

“These allegations have no basis in fact, and we denounce this type of groundless coverage. Huawei has never given, implied, nor promised any political donations in relation to this project.

“As a global business entity, Huawei does not involve itself in politics. Huawei forbids all of its global subsidiaries from making any form of political donation, including in places where this practice is legal,” official statements from the tech company reads.

The undersea cable project was supposed to bring reliable internet to the Solomon Islands, the small Pacific nation where Australian military and police forces have been helping keep political stability since 2004.

The project, which was to connect the Solomons to Sydney via a 4500-kilometre fibre optic cable, had the backing of the Asian Development Bank and a favoured contractor in a British-American company. It even had the nod from the Australian government to land the cable in Sydney.

But then last year, abruptly and allegedly without proper processes, the Solomons government switched to a subsidiary of the Chinese firm Huawei, which was banned from involvement in Australia's national broadband network on security grounds on the advice of ASIO.

Since then, allegations have surfaced of a $6.5 million political donation paid by Huawei to the ruling party in Honiara.  Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare visited Canberra last week and discussed the matter with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Sogavare said afterwards that "the security issue was expressed to us" but added "we continue to have discussions with the Australian government to see how we can solve that" and expressed confidence there was a way through the issue.

In a separate statement, Mr Sogavare said he was "considering all available options" – which could point either to ditching Huawei as a contractor or connecting to another hub such as Fiji or Papua New Guinea.

Officially, Australia will assess any landing permit for the cable under the new arrangement with Huawei Marine – a joint venture between Huawei and British firm Global Marine Systems.

Solomon Star
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