Huawei Australia chief eyes bidding on other broadband contracts

SYDNEY Sun Apr 1, 2012 1:33am BST

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Chinese telecom equipment firm Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Australia Chairman John Lord said on Sunday that there are still parts of Australia's $38 billion national broadband network (NBN) the company wants to bid for despite a government ban.

Australia has blocked Huawei HWT.UL from tendering for contracts in Australia's $38 billion high-speed broadband network (NBN) due to undefined security concerns.

But Lord said in a television interview said he still believes portions of Australia's telecommunications infrastructure should be open to research and technology from outside sources and the company will push ahead for that business.

"Our argument will always be that there is core parts of the national infrastructure that companies like us would not expect to be in," Lord said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We would still argue that there are parts of the NBN that are perhaps suitable."

The ban has prompted comment from Australia's largest trading partner, China. After news of Huawei's ban broke last week, China's Foreign Ministry called on the Australian government to provide fair market access for Chinese companies.

Huawei has made a submission to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's strategy paper on "Australia in the Asian Century" that argues for bringing technologies into Australia from some "not so traditional sources," Lord told the ABC.

Lord said he hoped that the decision to exclude Huawei from tendering for Australia's NBN was based on national interest and not based on the fact that it was Huawei or a Chinese company.

Huawei started its Australian operations in 2004 and has expanded its business across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The company was founded by its CEO Ren Zhengfei, a former officer of the People's Liberation Army in China, a fact that has fuelled the claim that it has a cozy relationship with the Chinese government - a claim denied by the company.

The Shenzhen-based firm, like cross-town rival ZTE Corp 000063.SZ, has been struggling to expand in the United States, which blocked its telecom equipment deals due to national security concerns and allegations it violated sanctions by supplying Iran with censorship equipment.

(Writing by Morag MacKinnon, with additional reporting by Maggie Lu-Yue Yang; Editing by Ed Lane)

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Comments (1)
Spinner wrote:
Despite the huffing and puffing from the boss at Huawei Australia, Huawei is a Chinese government owned company, and is very definitely controlled by the Chinese government. But, even were it not, being a Chinese company, it could be controlled by the authoritarian government of China at any time.

Is this a situation which should be desirable for any sovereign government; to have a foreign government, and not always a well behaved foreign government, holding a significant stake in a national infrastructure project such as the NBN?

The NBN will ultimately become the medium for most communications in Australia, including national security communications. Is Huawei so naive as to imagine that this would not be a situation of some concern to the government of a democratic government and its citizens?

Apr 02, 2012 11:04pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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