A hot potato: Huawei and ZTE have long been under fire from security experts and government officials in the US due to their alleged ties with the Chinese government. Pressure to push the companies out of the US has only mounted in recent months and now, other countries are following suit.
Australia has banned Chinese telecommunications giants Huawei and ZTE from supplying equipment to build the nation’s 5G mobile network.
Huawei’s official Australian Twitter account recently announced that the government has banned it and ZTE from providing 5G technology to Australia. The company said it is an extremely disappointing result for consumers, especially considering it is a world leader in 5G and has “safely & securely” delivered wireless technology Down Under for nearly 15 years.
We have been informed by the Govt 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 & securely delivered wireless technology in Aust for close to 15 yrs— Huawei Australia (@HuaweiOZ) August 22, 2018
Australia’s communications and acting home affairs ministers on Thursday issued a joint statement on the matter. In part, it reads:
The Government considers that the involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorized access or interference.
The ministers, who didn’t mention any specific firms by name, added that as 5G and related technologies continue to develop, new risks relating to the technology may emerge and require further government consideration.
As Reuters highlights, Chinese law requires citizens and organizations to assist, support and cooperate with intelligence work. Many believe this makes Chinese equipment a conduit for espionage.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said they urge the Australian government to abandon ideological prejudices and provide a fair competitive environment for Chinese companies’ operations in Australia.
ZTE hasn’t publicly commented on the matter.