China’s Huawei is desperately trying to convince Australian politicians it can be trusted

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  • Chinese firm Huawei has sent a letter to Australian politicians to assuage national security fears surrounding the company, according to the Australian Financial Review.
  • Huawei has been shortlisted to provide equipment to Australia’s new 5G wireless network.
  • Local intelligence agencies have reportedly advised against granting Huawei access to the network.
  • China’s own laws state that organizations must help with “national intelligence work,” raising concerns about giving the firm access to Australia’s critical infrastructure.

Chinese firm Huawei is trying to convince Australian politicians that its technology can be trusted as the country decides which companies will construct a 5G wireless network.

In 2012, Huawei was not allowed to tender for Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) due to cybersecurity concerns raised by Australia’s intelligence agency, ASIO. Recent reports suggest Huawei is almost guaranteed to be excluded from supplying equipment to the 5G network for similar reasons.

In response, Huawei sent a letter to Australian MPs and senators, according to the Australian Financial Review, arguing that excluding the company would increase the cost for consumers and jeopardize its operations in Australia.

“To completely exclude Huawei from 5G in Australia means excluding Huawei from the entire Australian market and we don’t believe this would be in Australia’s best interest,” the letter read. “Increased competition not only means cheaper prices but most importantly better access to the latest technologies and innovation.”

Signed by chairman John Lord and two company directors, the letter also said concerns about Huawei being a national security risk are “ill-informed and not based on facts.”

Concerns exist around the ease with which Beijing can order Chinese companies to participate in “national intelligence work,” potentially allowing the Chinese Communist Party access to critical Australian infrastructure.

China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law states: “All organizations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work, and guard the secrecy of national intelligence work they are aware of.”

Earlier this year, during a visit to the US, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was reportedly briefed by the head of the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security regarding concerns over Huawei supplying equipment for the 5G network. It was subsequently announced the Australia’s Home Affairs Department would conduct a full national security assessment before Huawei could participate.

Six intelligence chiefs – including the heads of the CIA, FBI, and NSA – testified in February that they do not use, and would not recommend private citizens use products from Huawei. Since then, Australia’s defence department told Business Insider it no longer uses Huawei phones and the Pentagon announced it stopped selling Huawei phones and modems on its military bases because they “may pose an unacceptable risk.”