China’s commerce ministry said on Thursday Australia had made a “wrong decision” which would have a “negative impact”, after the Australian government banned Chinese firm Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment for its planned 5G mobile network.
“The Australian government has made a wrong decision and by doing so, it will have a negative impact on the commercial interests of Chinese and Australian companies,” the ministry said on its website www.mofcom.gov.cn.
Earlier on Thursday, Australia said it had banned Huawei from supplying equipment for its 5G mobile network, citing risks of foreign interference and hacking which Beijing dismissed as an “excuse” to tilt the playing field against a Chinese firm.
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Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications network gear, shot back on Friday saying the 5G ban was “politically motivated” and that it had never been asked to engage in intelligence work on behalf of any government.
“Chinese law does not grant government the authority to compel telecommunications firms to install backdoors, listening devices, or engage in any behaviour that might compromise the telecommunications equipment of other nations,” it added.
Huawei, already a supplier of 4G network in Australia, also pointed out that there was no fundamental difference between 4G and 5G architecture and that the latter provides stronger guarantees around privacy and security.
Western intelligence agencies, however, have for years raised concerns about Huawei’s ties to China’s government and the possibility its equipment could be used for espionage.
While there is no evidence to back this suspicion, Chinese law does require organizations and citizens to support, assist and cooperate with intelligence work.
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“That’s what you get when you have the aligned strategy of a Chinese company with the Chinese government,” said John Watters, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer of cybersecurity firm FireEye.
“(Australia) basically made a decision to spend more money to have more control over their national communication system, because they’re up against a competitor that will sacrifice near-term margin for long-term intelligence advantage.”
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