While ZTE is fighting for survival in the US, fellow Chinese company Huawei is also struggling in Australia. While the consequences of losing this battle is less likely to make Huawei fold, it is still a slippery slope that could see Huawei’s foothold in more markets around the world. Just like in the US, Australia’s rivaling political parties seem to be in agreement that allowing Huawei to participate in building the country’s 5G infrastructure would be tantamount to giving China backdoor access to it.
This isn’t news actually, at least not if you consider similar concerns both in the US and the UK. Both countries have already labeled Huawei as a national security risk because of the company’s ties to the Chinese government. Just recently, the US has banned the purchase and use of any Huawei product in government, be it smartphones or networking equipment.
That sentiment is now being echoed in Australia, where the government is considering blocking Huawei from participating in its 5G network. Some clarify that it isn’t an outright bias against all Chinese products but only those that would pose a risk to national security. Considering that 5G networks will be the backbone of anything connected to the Internet in the near future, from smartphones to homes to self-driving cars, having a “known” spy build help that network is said to be inappropriate.
Naturally, Huawei has decried this association with the Chinese government, as it has been doing in the US and elsewhere. It paints itself more as a “cooperative” rather than state-owned company, a characterization that isn’t selling with Australian politicians. Most of the evidence of Huawei’s state-sponsored espionage come from intelligence reports from the US and the UK.
Huawei’s battle in Australia isn’t over yet, though. Unlike the US, the country might not be able to take such a hard stance and its Prime Minister seems to be undecided. Blocking Huawei from the country’s 5G network could sour relations with China, something that Australia might not be able to afford in the long run.