China: Grid security fears ‘groundless’

By Alena Mae S. Flores – November 28, 2019 at 08:30 pm

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China described as “groundless” the concerns raised by Filipino senators over Beijing’s ability to remotely shut down the Philippines’ power infrastructure.

Senators earlier raised concern over the alleged capability of China to remotely shut down the Philippines power infrastructure through National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, which is 40-percent controlled by State Grid Corp. of China.

“To my knowledge, the State Grid Corporation of China took part in the TransCo (National Transmission Corp.) project as a cooperation partner, providing safe, efficient and high-quality electricity services. The project is now operated, managed and maintained by the Philippine side, with the Chinese partner offering necessary technical support upon request,” Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, said in a news conference.

“The allegation of China’s control over the Philippines’ power grid or threat to the country’s national security is completely groundless, ” said Shuang.

He said the Philippines was China’s close and friendly neighbor and important partner.

“We support Chinese businesses’ pursuit of practical, win-win cooperation in the Philippines in accordance with laws and regulations. We hope certain individuals in the Philippines will look at cooperation with China in an open, objective and impartial manner. There is no need to worry about the sky falling or imagine trouble where there is none,” he said, based on the transcript provided after the news conference.

SGCC has a 40-percent stake in NGCP while the remaining 60 percent is controlled by Filipino companies, Monte Oro Grid Resources Corp. and Calaca High Power Corp. with 30 percent shares, each.

NGCP assured that the country’s transmission network operator remained under the control of Filipinos.
“There is nothing to be alarmed about the stake by SGCC in NGCP as its investment is limited only to being a technical adviser,” said NGCP president and chief executive Anthony Almeda.

NGCP said there were only three nominees from SGCC who sit as members of the NGCP board of directors representing the company.

“SGCC serves only as the technical adviser of the consortium, but the management and the control of NGCP, including its systems operation, are exclusively exercised by Filipinos,” Almeda said.

He said the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, the system that controls the grid, is operated only by authorized Filipino technical experts of NGCP.

“By default, SCADA is disconnected from the Virtual Private Network; thus, remote users cannot connect to SCADA,” Almeda said.

“VPN access may only be granted to the Filipino CEO in an emergency situation and only after undergoing a secure and confidential approval process,” he said.