Minister of Information and Communication Truong Minh Tuan admitted at a government press conference that the largest mobile network operators in Vietnam now mostly use Chinese equipment.
Experts have repeatedly warned about the insecurity of Chinese products.
Tuan attributed the problem to unreasonable strategies and policies, including the Bidding Law, and the flexible approaches by Chinese telecom groups.
Nguyen Ai Viet, head of the Information Technology Institute, an arm of the Hanoi National University, agrees that the problem lies in the legal framework.
He said that the loopholes in the laws on bidding organization have been fully exploited by Chinese contractors to win bids and then bring cheap outdated technologies to Vietnam.
“Vietnam’s Bidding Law comprises provisions which are quite different from that in other countries, and technical scores do not have much significance,” Viet said.
“The contractors with advantages in technology may fail if they set prices higher than the contractors who set lower prices and have lower technology,” he said.
An analyst said that the warnings about the security problems of Chinese equipment were released a long time ago.
Chinese Huawei and ZTE have been denounced as providing products which could be security threats to the country.
However, policymakers could not anticipate this and therefore did not set regulations to prevent problematic products.
He went on to say that Chinese contractors can offer low prices because of a policy under which the Chinese government will give support to Chinese enterprises which win bids in certain countries.
However, this will not work in the US, which has an anti-dumping law. If Chinese enterprises offer low prices thanks to the government’s subsidy, they will be weeded out because this is a violation of the US law.
Regarding the cyberattacks at Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai Airports, Viet said that Vietnam was too late in ensuring network security and protecting personal information and national secrets.
Experts have recently mentioned cyberattacks in other countries, though official evidence has not been exposed.
Therefore, Vietnam has urged state management agencies and businesses to take initiative to prevent risks caused by Chinese technologies and equipment.
In principle, Vietnam cannot sort out Chinese contractors from bids because this could be considered discriminatory treatment.
However, other countries with the same conditions as Vietnam can prevent these contractors by hiring international consultants. Vietnam could learn lessons from them.
He also urged that a new policy be developed, possibly a government decree, and a national program on preventing security flaws in hardware.