Prime Minister Julia Gillard has denied claims that the government's decision to ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from tendering for the National Broadband Network (NBN) has damaged Australia's relationship with China.
(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
The government banned Chinese-owned network vendor Huawei from competing for contracts with the NBN because of security fears. Huawei has long been under scrutiny because of alleged links with the People's Liberation Army. The office of the attorney-general said that it had the responsibility to protect the integrity of the network and the information carried on it.
The Coalition's finance spokesperson Andrew Robb slammed the decision, saying that Labor had damaged relations with China.
At yesterday's announcement of the NBN's three-year roll-out plan, Gillard said Australia's relationship with China was strong.
"We've got a strong robust relationship with China, we are deeply engaged at every level. We have a strong economic relationship, we have increasing ties at every level," she said.
"I'm not surprised this is one moment where we are seeing things differently, but it would be a great error indeed to move from a moment where we are seeing one thing differently and then extrapolate that to the full dimensions of the relationship. A very grave error indeed."
Gillard said she was acting in Australia's interest in imposing the ban on the Chinese network vendor.
"I stood up for Australia's national interest. I note the opposition is standing up for the interests of a Chinese company," she said, adding that the decision was not in breach of trade obligations.
"Any suggestion this is somehow in breach of our trade obligations is simply untrue and I note China takes a view about its own telecommunications system and roll-out [and] whether or not there should be foreign investment in that."
Gillard said that the government took the right decision based on the right advice about "a piece of critical infrastructure for our nation's view".