Chinese officials lobby Australia to reverse Huawei 5G ban

Chinese government officials are lobbying their Australian counterparts to reverse the ban of Huawei’s equipment in national 5G networks.

A ban of the equipment was implemented by ex-Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, who was ousted earlier this year. Chinese officials have praised his replacement, Scott Morrison, for a more “positive attitude” towards China.

Beijing is hoping to capitalise on this more positive attitude in order to get the ban on Chinese telecoms equipment reversed.

During briefings with a delegation of journalists in Beijing this week, Chinese officials repeatedly iterated their disdain with Huawei’s exclusion. They said “the issue is not over" and discussions with Canberra would continue.

With 5G set to be used for more applications than prior generation mobile networks, including smart cities and remote surgeries, the concern about security is greater than ever.

Earlier this week, Australian Spy Chief Mike Burgess said:

"5G technology will underpin the communications that Australians rely on every day, from our health systems and the potential applications of remote surgery, to self-driving cars and through to the operation of our power and water supply.”

Security concerns extend to hackers as well as the influence of foreign governments in networks. Compromised equipment could be used for espionage, or to control/shut-down critical infrastructure.

Many governments have raised particular fears about Chinese equipment due to an alleged law requiring private firms to cooperate with ‘national intelligence work’ if ordered to do so by Beijing.

Huawei has denied any such law exists and the allegations China has any state control over its operations.

Australia is part of the ‘Five Eyes’ security partners which also includes America, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The US has long upheld a ban on Chinese telecoms equipment and continues to lobby for its partners to do so.

So far, the UK and Canada have resisted calls for a ban and instead have their security agencies check equipment for threats before use in national infrastructure.

Scott Jones, Head of Ottawa’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, explained:

“We have a very advanced relationship with our telecommunications providers, something that is different from most other countries from what I have seen.

We have a program that is very deep in terms of working on increasing that broader resilience piece especially as we are looking at the next-generation telecommunications networks."

Furthermore, Jones believes excluding telecoms vendors leads to an increased security risk as it reduces variety. If a specific vendor’s equipment is compromised, it would represent a larger proportion of the network.

New Zealand is currently in the process of formulating their own position.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam to learn more.

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