Huawei’s head of corporate affairs for Australia blasted the The Australian Financial Review (AFR) after it claimed the vendor has strong links to the Chinese government and should not be considered for an infrastructure project in Western Australia.
In a strongly-worded letter to the newspaper, Jeremy Mitchell, director of corporate and public affairs for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, said the vendor “rejects the baseless allegations, insinuation and fearmongering directed at the company” by AFR “without a shred of evidence of wrongdoing.”
Mitchell said Huawei is a 100 per cent employee-owned company and poses no security threat to any country. “In 30 years, not a single telco operator has experienced a security issue with our equipment.”
He added that Huawei, which started doing business in Australia in 2004, is the country’s leading supplier of mobile network infrastructure, with more than half of the population using its equipment every day for their communications needs “without incident”.
Mitchell hammered the point home in a LinkedIn post after the letter was published: “Putting the record straight on Huawei…we are #1 in the world because we are trusted by our customers and we lead in innovation. Updated thinking needed.”
The Huawei executive was responding to an AFR article questioning why the West Australian government was on the brink of awarding an AUD120 million ($89.8 million) rail communications contract to the vendor or its domestic rival ZTE. The newspaper argued such consideration appeared at odds with efforts by the national government to roll back Beijing’s potential influence over critical infrastructure in the country.
Both companies are also among five shortlisted bidders for Telstra’s 5G network contract.
Huawei was banned on national security grounds in 2012 from bidding on contracts for the country’s national broadband network.
AFR said in another article that “given Huawei was banned from bidding on contracts for the National Broadband Network, it would be highly unusual if the security services did not have a problem with it or ZTE’s involvement in Australia’s 5G network”.
Two months ago, US President Donald Trump’s national security team warned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about doing business with the Chinese vendors, the newspaper said, noting “the US would be uncomfortable with Australian telcos allowing ZTE or Huawei to build their 5G networks”.