Australia is distancing themselves from Huawei and ZTE. In fact, they’ve imposed a ban that is much more detrimental to the companies than the one that the United States handed down. According to the Financial Times and Reuters, Australia has banned the two telecoms from supplying local mobile carriers with 5G tech equipment due to national security concerns. Huawei has confirmed this move in a statement posted on Twitter. They have been providing this technology to Australia for 15 years so why now?
“We have been informed by the Got that Huawei & ZTE have been banned from providing 5G technology to Australia. This is a extremely disappointing result for consumers. Huawei is a world leader in 5G. Has safely and securely delivered wireless technology in Aust for close to 15 years”.
Australia is the first country to explicitly ban local carriers from working with the companies. The ban in the United States only covers its personnel, agencies, and contractors. The Australian government indicates the following reason for the ban:
“The involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from foreign governments that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorised access or interference”.
Under China’s law, companies and organizations are required to assist in its intelligence efforts when asked. The country’s authorities are clearly concerned about the possibility of a Chinese firm leaving Australia’s 5G network vulnerable to the possibility of infiltration on purpose for spying purpose. But why Huawei, and why now? AS I’ve pointed out in previous posts, there isn’t a lot of hard evidence explaining the rationale behind why these two particular companies are being banned. In the U.S example, the only “reason” that can be determined is one that is biased and suggests paranoia on Donald Trump’s part.
Huawei is one of the world’s largest makers of telecom gear and smartphones. They are already selling equipment to major Australian telecom carriers, so this definitely throws a kink into their existing plans. Huawei wrote to Australian lawmakers recently arguing that this ban is “ill-informed and not based on facts”. This whole idea is because it’s believed that the Chinese government is somehow going to be able to spy on other countries as a result of these two particular companies.
The Australian government, however, has indicated they’re excluding companies that “are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government”, which is a nice way of saying that it’s not just these particular companies. But it kind of is. The Australian government is being extremely diplomatic. In fact, neither Huawei or ZTE have been specifically named in this ban, but these two companies are in the news a lot for this kind of suspicion.
Huawei has said repeatedly that they are a private company owned by its employees, and that it obeys whatever laws, in whatever company that they operate in. With such concerns about Chinese technology continuing to spread globally, it seems increasingly unlikely that the tech cold war between China and the United States will be reconciled quickly.