Huawei's AU-NBN ban raises major questions

Tony Brown/Informa Telecoms and Media
27 Mar 2012
The ludicrous spy myth
As I have argued for several years now – and Alexander Downer himself has stated in recent weeks – the argument that Huawei is some sort of quasi-intelligence gathering arm of the Beijing government is so ludicrous that it should scarcely be tolerated in serious company.
As anyone in the global telecoms industry appreciates it would only take one instance of the firm being found to have somehow compromised the security integrity of a foreign customer – and Lord knows there sure are already plenty of people out there looking for evidence of such an instance – and Huawei would be instantly dead in the water.
Would Huawei, a company already generating billions of dollars from international clients and whose future can only be secured via a huge international presence, seriously put all that at risk for the sake of helping out the Beijing intelligence services? One strike and they would be out of the game forever.
Moreover, with the Beijing government acutely aware that the future of the country as a global technology player relies heavily on ensuring that the likes of Huawei and ZTE become established and well trusted forces in the international market – it is hard to imagine that they would be willing to put that at risk by asking the firms to betray their foreign customers.
Perhaps what sticks in the craw so badly about the current imbroglio is hearing the US security establishment disparage Huawei as being effectively a tool of the Beijing government when it is less than a decade since the US government forced its own telecom industry, in the form of local carriers, to release highly sensitive customer information in its post-9/11 security crackdown.
Don’t think for a second that the Chinese don’t appreciate the irony of that.
Tony Brown is a senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media. For more information visit


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