Huawei: Australian 5G ban 'politically motivated'

Huawei has argued that the ban preventing it from taking part in Australia's 5G network rollouts is politically motivated and not based in fact or 'equitable decision making'.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Huawei has slammed the 5G ban announced this week by the Australian government, saying it is not based in fact or a result of a transparent process, but rather motivated by the current leadership spill occurring in the Liberal party.

"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. It 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 in a statement on Friday afternoon.

According to Huawei, the cost of 5G networks will rise as a result of the lack of competition, and will impact Australia's "transition to a digital economy".

Huawei added that speculation about national security concerns and the operation of Chinese law have also not been investigated properly.

"Interpreting Chinese law should be left to qualified and impartial legal experts. Huawei has presented the Australian government with an independent, third-party expert analysis of the Chinese laws in question: Chinese law does not grant government the authority to compel telecommunications firms to install backdoors or listening devices, or engage in any behaviour that might compromise the telecommunications equipment of other nations," Huawei said.

"A mistaken and narrow understanding of Chinese law should not serve as the basis for concerns about Huawei's business. Huawei has never been asked to engage in intelligence work on behalf of any government.

"The Australian government's actions undermine the principles of competition and non-discrimination in fair trade."

Huawei said it is continuing to engage with the federal government and "will take all possible measures to protect our legal rights and interests".

ZDNet understands that Huawei has not ruled out legal action.

Huawei had on Thursday told ZDNet that it was "extremely" disappointed with the Australian government's decision not to allow it to take part in the nation's 5G rollouts due to national security issues stemming from concerns of foreign government interference in critical communications infrastructure.

"We have been informed by the government that Huawei and ZTE have been banned from providing 5G technology to Australia," Huawei told ZDNet in a statement.

"This is an extremely disappointing result for consumers.

"Huawei is a world leader in 5G, and has safely and securely delivered wireless technology in Australia for close to 15 years."

The Australian government has announced a national security-based decision to prevent foreign vendors from taking part in the rollout of 5G mobile networks across the nation, effectively banning Chinese networking giants Huawei and ZTE from involvement.

"Government has expectations of the application of the TSSR obligations with respect to the involvement of third-party vendors in 5G networks, including evolution of networks leading to mature 5G networks," a joint statement by Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and acting Home Affairs Minister Scott Morrison said.

"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 unauthorised access or interference."

Read more: Paranoia will destroy us: Why Chinese tech isn't spying on us

According to Morrison, 5G network security will have "fundamental implications" for all citizens for the next 10 years.

The joint statement cites the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR) introduced last year, saying the government must "take necessary steps to safeguard the security of Australians' information and communications at all times".

"The government's Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms, which commence on September 18, place obligations on telecommunications companies to protect Australian networks from unauthorised interference or access that might prejudice our national security," Morrison said.

The ministers then pointed to the architecture of 5G networks, saying that as all functions are moving closer to the edge and away from the core, there will be "new challenges" for security.

"This new architecture provides a way to circumvent traditional security controls by exploiting equipment in the edge of the network -- exploitation which may affect overall network integrity and availability, as well as the confidentiality of customer data. A long history of cyber incidents shows cyber actors target Australia and Australians," the statement said.

"Government has found no combination of technical security controls that sufficiently mitigate the risks. While we are protected as far as possible by current security controls, the new network, with its increased complexity, would render these current protections ineffective in 5G."

The Liberal party is currently voting on its next leader and Australia's next prime minister.

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