Cyber terrorism and spying fears forced the Australian government to ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from being allowed to install next generation 5G mobile networks.
Huawei, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment company, was barred in 2012 from installing the National Broadband Network.
In August last year, the Australian government announced Huawei would also be banned from installing 5G mobile, annoying Australia’s biggest trading partner China.
Huawei has this week launched legal action against the United States government, after a law was passed last year banning federal agencies from buying its equipment.
Cyber terrorism and spying fears forced the Australian government to ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from being allowed to install next generation 5G mobile networks (stock image)
Scott Morrison announced Australia’s decision to ban Huawei the day before he replaced Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s senior analyst on international cyber policy Tom Uren said Huawei would have posed a national security risk.
‘There’s risk of Huawei being used to enable either espionage or sabotage,’ he told Daily Mail Australia on Thursday.
Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei was a member of the People’s Liberation Army before founding his technology company in 1987.
His ties to the Chinese Communist Party have made governments nervous, from Australia to India.
‘The Chinese Communist Party has great control over enterprises,’ Mr Uren said.
Huawei, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment company, was barred in 2012 from installing the National Broadband Network. In August last year, the Australian government announced Huawei would also be banned from installing 5G mobile
‘They prioritise their own security over anything else.
‘Mostly it’s the way China operates writ large.’
The United Kingdom and Germany are yet to formally ban Huawei from installing essential telecommunications, but Mr Uren said Australia was right to be wary.
Tom Uren: ‘There’s risk of Huawei being used to enable either espionage or sabotage.’
He said Huawei, if allowed to install the 5G network, could have been directed by the Chinese government to spy on Australian government agencies and cabinet ministers.
‘They have basically a great ability to reach into that network and do stuff,’ he said.
In February, Mr Morrison told Parliament foreign government hackers had spied on the Labor, Liberal and National parties, without accusing China.
‘Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,’ Mr Morrison told the House of Representatives.
‘Let me be clear, there is no evidence of any electoral interference.
‘We have put in place a number of measures to ensure the integrity of our electoral system.’
Three days later, Australian coal was banned from entering China’s Dalian port in the country’ north, causing the Australian dollar to plunge by a percentage point.
Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei was a member of the People’s Liberation Army (stock image)
China bought $13billion worth of Australian coal in the 2017/18 financial year.
Chinese international students also spend $10billion a year on education, or roughly a third of the value of Australia’s major export.
Despite its economic clout, Mr Uren said it was unlikely the Huawei ban was behind Chinese ports banning Australian coal.
‘Personally, I don’t think so. There are bigger issues at play,’ he said.
But the Canberra-based analyst added it was in China’s interests for Australia to worry about the Huawei ban.
‘It’s kind of useful for it to be tied to that narrative,’ he said.
‘It supports pressure on Australia if people talk about it being a Huawei-related issue.’
On Thursday, Huawei launched legal proceedings against the U.S. government arguing the National Defence Authorisation Act, signed by President Donald Trump in August, unfairly punished it without outlining how it posed an espionage threat.
Huawei said it had no plans to sue the Australian government over a similar ban.