BEIJING — China’s Ministry of Commerce said it was deeply concerned with the Australian government’s refusal to allow Huawei Technologies Co. to supply equipment to a national broadband project, calling the action “unjust”.
Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said the Chinese company has supplied broadband equipment and services to many countries across the globe, according to a ministry statement on Friday. In Huawei’s Australia office, 90 percent of the employees are Australian, and the company has operated without a bad record in the country for the last decade, he added.
“Both China and Australia should uphold an open, co-operative and constructive attitude, so that trade and investment from companies of both nations will be fair,” the statement said. The ministry spokesman also said both China and Australia have signed bilateral investment protection agreements.
Australian officials decided to ban Huawei from supplying equipment to the country’s National Broadband Network because of worries of cyberattacks coming from China.
In response, Huawei called the ban a “setback”, and noted that expectations for the company are higher given its Chinese origin. To try and resolve the concerns, Huawei is offering to make its source code available and allow audits of its equipment.
Last month, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also opposed the ban. “We hope competent Australian authorities will provide a level and indiscriminative market environment for Chinese companies, instead of wearing colored glasses and obstructing Chinese companies’ normal operations in Australia in the name of security,” said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei.
Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard, however, said during a press conference last month that her government supports the ban to block Huawei from participating in the broadband project. She declined to offer details on how the decision was made, calling it a national security matter.
“We have made decisions in the national interest,” she said. “Any suggestion that this is somehow in breach of our trade obligations is simply untrue.”
Concerns about Huawei as a security threat have been raised in many markets including the U.S., where the Department of Commerce blocked the company last year from participating in a project to build a national wireless network, citing security reasons.
A top Huawei competitor is also critical of the company. Cisco Systems Inc.’s chief executive John Chambers is reported to have said at a Wall Street Journal event that the Chinese company doesn’t always “play by the rules” in areas such as intellectual property protection and computer security. Chambers didn’t cite specific instances.