Huawei says Australian government wrong to block it from supplying 5G on security grounds
Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment vendor, said Australia’s decision to bar it and ZTE Corp from taking part in the country’s 5G infrastructure development was made on political grounds, a move that undermined fair trade and hurt the interests of local consumers.
“The Australian government’s decision to block Huawei from Australia’s 5G market is politically motivated, not the result of a fact-based, transparent, or equitable decision-making process,” Huawei said in a statement on Friday.
The decision is not aligned with the long-term interests of the Australian people, and denies Australian businesses and consumers the right to choose from the best communications technology available, Huawei said, adding that a non-competitive market will raise the cost of network construction and have lasting effects on Australia’s transition to a digital economy. In the end, everyday businesses and consumers are the ones who will suffer the most from the government’s actions, Huawei said.
Both Huawei and ZTE, the two leading Chinese telecoms equipment makers which invest heavily on research and development of next-generation networks, have been excluded from building Australia’s 5G infrastructure after Canberra laid out new rules on Thursday. The government barred the involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law, as that may result in failure to adequately protect the 5G network from unauthorised access or interference, it said.
Though the security guidance to Australian carriers did not name any telecoms equipment supplier, Huawei said in a Twitter post that it has been informed by the government that Huawei and ZTE have been banned from providing 5G technology to the country.
“This is an extremely disappointing result for consumers. Huawei is a world leader in 5G. Has safely and securely delivered wireless technology in Australia for close to 15 year,” Huawei Australia said in a post on Twitter on Thursday.
Canberra’s latest decision on Huawei and ZTE also came at a time as the trade war between China and the US escalates. Both sides slapped 25 per cent tariffs on another US$16 billion of each other’s imports on Thursday. China’s Vice-Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen was also in Washington for talks with US Treasury Undersecretary David Malpass, trying to defuse tensions between the two largest economies in the world.
“For any country, fair and robust market competition is essential to strong economic growth,” Huawei said in the statement. “The Australian government’s actions undermine the principles of competition and non-discrimination in fair trade.”
Huawei, once again, denied that it has ever been asked to engage in intelligence work on behalf of any government, saying a mistaken and narrow understanding of Chinese law should not serve as the basis for concerns about Huawei’s business.
“Chinese law does not grant government the authority to compel telecommunications firms to install back doors or listening devices, or engage in any behaviour that might compromise the telecommunications equipment of other nations,” it said.
The Shenzhen-based company also counter-attacked Canberra’s reasoning that 5G required a network architecture that is significantly different to earlier mobile generations and that the government had found no combination of technical security controls that sufficiently mitigated the risks.
“There is no fundamental difference between 5G and 4G network architecture; the core networks and access networks are still separated,” Huawei said in the statement. “Moreover, 5G has stronger guarantees around privacy and security protection than 3G and 4G. We urge the government to take an objective and fact-based approach to security issues, and work together on effective long-term solutions.”
The company goes on to call on “open dialogue, joint innovation, and close collaboration” so that the industry can develop, according to the statement.
In July, Huawei scored an A$136 million contract to build and maintain the digital radio systems that deliver voice and data services across Perth’s rail network in Australia, in spite of security concerns raised by some Australian lawmakers.
The deal came less than a month after it refuted claims by some Australian lawmakers that it posed a security risk, calling the criticism “ill-informed” in an open letter in mid-June. It also occurred at a time when Huawei is lobbying the Australian government not to block it from supplying broadband equipment for Australia’s 5G mobile services roll-out.
“The government has not issued any specific concerns about Huawei’s governance, security, or suitability to safely and securely conduct business in Australia, so we’ve been given nothing to respond to,” Huawei said in the statement on Thursday.
The Chinese company also said it will continue to engage with the Australian government, and in accordance with Australian law and relevant international conventions, we will take all possible measures to protect our legal rights and interests.