Facing the prospect of being banned from bidding on Australia’s national 5G mobile services roll out, the senior leadership of Huawei Australia issued an open letter to members of the country’s Parliament stating that suggestions the company is an agent of the Chinese Government, and therefore a national security threat, are “ill-informed and not based on facts.”
“We are a private company, owned by our employees with no other shareholders. In each of the 170 countries where we operate, we abide by the national laws and guidelines. To do otherwise would end our business overnight,” reads the letter, signed by Huawei Australia Chairman John Lord and board directors John Brumby and Lance Hockridge.
Some Australian politicians are convinced that Huawei has close ties to the Chinese Government, and therefore use of its technology in a nationwide 5G roll out would endanger national security. The concerns are sufficiently widespread to lead soon to an expanded ban on the company’s potential participation in the project, according to local media reports.
Such a ban would cause significant harm to Huawei, the letter asserts. “To completely exclude Huawei from 5G in Australia means excluding Huawei from the entire Australian market and we don’t believe this would be in Australia’s best interest,” the company executives write.
The company has offered to build an evaluation and testing center in Australia to alleviate security concerns. “Countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy and New Zealand, just to name a few, have managed to embrace Huawei’s technology within their own national security frameworks. We believe this can be done in Australia also,” the executives add.
However, press reports suggest that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the UK advised against the use of ZTE equipment in the country’s telecommunications networks in part because of the presence of Huawei gear (see “UK's National Cyber Security Centre warns use of ZTE equipment poses national security risk”). Meanwhile, both Huawei and ZTE have long been the target of U.S. politicians’ suspicion due to their perception that the companies are too cozy with China’s government (see, for example, “FCC's Pai proposes ban on USF use on 'national security threats'” and “U.S. House Intelligence Committee sees Huawei and ZTE as security threats”).
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