THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT has threatened action against Australia over the barring of Huawei and ZTE from supplying equipment to the country’s 5G network.
China’s Ministry of Commerce issued a bland statement describing the Australian government’s move as “a wrong decision”. In a brief released on Friday by the state-owned Xinhua news agency, a Ministry of Commerce spokesperson claimed that the “rules will exert [a] negative influence on the interest[s] of both Chinese and Australian companies”.
The spokesperson added: “Australia should look at the big picture of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, rather than easily interfere with and restrict normal business activities in the name of national security.”
But editorials in China’s state-controlled press – which are normally a better guide of Communist Party and, hence, government thinking – described the move as a “stab in the back” for Huawei that would attract retaliation against Australia and Australian companies.
In an editorial, the staunchly pro-government Global Times accused Australia of being one of the strictest countries “to exclude Chinese manufacturers from its markets” and claimed that the government was “discriminating against Huawei in the name of national security”.
It hinted that the US is partially behind the move, which has warned about security issues posed by networking from Chinese suppliers, particularly Huawei and ZTE, for a number of years (PDF).
The Global Times suggested that such security fears have been stoked-up by the US government in order to help protect US producers. “Those who wilfully hurt Chinese companies with an excuse of national security will meet their nemesis,” it warned.
“The fundamental problem of Australia is it has not yet established a correct view of China and has adopted a wrong way of interacting with Beijing – being self-centred and following the US to take advantage of China, while boycotting the country,” it continues.
“It often carries out abrupt and radical actions against China that run counter to close Sino-Australian collaboration… Not all developed countries are hysterical about so-called security issues.”
The Australian government cited the potential invocation of security laws by suppliers’ governments as justification for the ban, adding that 5G required new layers of integrity from suppliers in order to ensure the security of 5G networks.
Wide-ranging laws in China give the government sweeping powers enabling it to take “all necessary” action in the name of national security. Critics fear that such laws could, for example, be invoked to compel a company with privileged access to the network of another company or telecoms operator to spy on behalf of the Chinese government.
While Huawei and ZTE weren’t named, the order barred companies from providing equipment and services to Australia’s 5G networks that could be “subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government”. µ
Source : Inquirer