One of Huawei’s top global executives has said the Federal Government got it wrong a year ago when it banned the Chinese telco giant from supplying equipment to Australia’s 5G mobile network.
- Huawei says it always tried to comply with local laws and has not been told why it was excluded from the 5G rollout
- 5G is the next generation mobile network that is currently being built offering faster speeds
- The Federal Government stands by its ban “based on domestic and national interests”
Walter Ji, Huawei’s consumer chief in Western Europe, said there was no proof that Australia’s national security would be jeopardised if a deal had been struck, insisting the company complied with local law and did not share information with Chinese intelligence agencies.
Asked by the ABC’s AM program if Huawei took any direction from the Chinese Government or handed over sensitive intelligence data to Beijing, Mr Ji said: “Of course not.”
Mr Ji was also forceful when pressed on whether the Australian Government erred in blocking Huawei from the 5G rollout in August last year.
“Definitely, I believe it’s the wrong decision,” Mr Ji said.
“We are trusted. Australia can trust Huawei. Security is our first priority and we are safe.
“Of course we are not happy with the current situation, because we always try our best to comply with the local law. We have not been told any reason why we were excluded from 5G.”
Mr Ji rejected concerns about links to the Chinese Government, maintaining Huawei’s status as a global company and an independent private company inside China.
In his only broadcast interview while visiting Australia to reassure local staff and partners, Mr Ji said he had not met Communications Minister Paul Fletcher or any government official.
“It is important for the Australian Government to make the right decision based on facts. From our side we continue to be open to talk if they have any concern,” Mr Ji said.
Government stands by Huawei 5G ban
A spokesman for Paul Fletcher, who succeeded Mitch Fifield as Communications Minister, said the Federal Government did not resile from its decision to block Huawei from the 5G rollout.
“Australia’s position on 5G security is based on our domestic and national interests. The Australian Government stands by its August 2018 announcement on 5G security,” the spokesman said.
Mr Ji told the ABC that despite the poor relations with the Australian Government, Huawei had no plans to scale back local operations or to leave altogether.
“Of course not. We are committed in the Australian market. We believe consumers will make the right choice based on the facts,” Mr Ji said.
Last August, after receiving news of Huawei’s banning, the telco’s Australian chairman, John Lord, said that Huawei was not the enemy and would not hand information to the Chinese Government.
Mr Lord told the ABC’s AM program that he believed xenophobia was a factor in banning Huawei.
“We’re doing a discussion with a bit of xenophobia around it and I think Huawei’s been caught up in this, which is sad for a commercial company,” Mr Lord said.
“It (xenophobia) is not allowing an open debate about how we embrace these new innovations and technologies so that Australia gets the best innovation and technology.”
Mr Ji cited Huawei’s record of operating in 130 countries over 30 years and its decision to invest $US15 billion last year in research and development, much of it related to 5G development.
Mr Ji’s Australian visit to reassure local partners comes as a British parliamentary committee said a decision to block Huawei in the UK was not a proportionate response to any potential security threats.
The decision last August by then Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and then-acting Home Affairs Minister Scott Morrison did not specifically name Huawei but referred to national security concerns about companies likely to receive “extrajudicial directions from a foreign government”.