Despite being banned from bidding on contracts for Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), Huawei Technologies, China’s largest maker of telephone equipment, would still look at potential opportunities related to the project.
The Federal Government has recently declared that Huawei would not win any supply contracts in the country’s $38 billion NBN project due to cyber security concerns.
Nonetheless, Huawei’s local board chairman John Lord said the company will now look at possible ventures in the broader market related to the NBN project.
“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 told ABC television on Sunday.
“We would still argue that there’s parts of the NBN that are perhaps suitable.”
The decision to ban the Chinese telecommunications giant came after warning from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that Huawei’s links to Chinese Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army would jeopardise national security.
PM Gillard backs Huawei ban
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard supports the decision to ban Huawei, arguing that the move was not against trade rules.
“We’ve made decisions in the national interest. We’ve made decisions that we have the ability to make,” Gillard said. “Any suggestion that this is somehow in breach of our trade obligations is simply untrue.”
“And I know China itself takes a view about its own telecommunication system and roll out, that it’s got a special approach to whether there should be foreign investment in that.”
Gillard’s statement came after China’s Foreign Ministry’s plea to provide “a market environment for Chinese companies that is fair and free from discrimination”.
Hong Lei’s spokesman said: “We hope the relevant authorities of Australia will provide a market environment for Chinese companies that is fair and free from discrimination, instead of wearing colored lenses and obstructing Chinese companies’ normal operation in Australia in the name of so-called security.”
Decision will not hurt Australia and Chinese relations
Australia’s Treasurer Wayne Swan has affirmed that the Huawei NBN ban would not hurt the country’s relations with China. Foreign Minister Bob Carr, on the other hand, has urged Huawei to continue expanding in Australia.
“We have no indication that any other projects have been looked at,” Huawei spokesman Luke Coleman told Reuters. “In fact the government has encouraged us to continue to grow our business here in Australia,” he added.