The Chinese telecom giant Huawei has been barred from supplying equipment to Australia’s next-generation wireless network, the company said, a move that aligns the Australian government with the United States' sweeping ban against the firm.
Huawei said Wednesday night on Twitter that Australia had banned the company from providing 5G technology. “This is an extremely disappointing result for consumers,” the company said, adding that it had safely delivered wireless tech in Australia for more than 14 years.
According to the same tweet, ZTE, another Chinese technology company, was also banned. Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
U.S. officials and others have long suspected that Huawei, the second-largest smartphone maker in the world, maintains ties to China’s communist leaders. Lawmakers have expressed concern that the company’s technology poses a national security risk because its devices may contain features designed to compromise American users. The Federal Communications Commission has been reviewing a proposal that would deny federal funding to firms that do business with Huawei and ZTE.
On Thursday, two Australian government ministers issued new security guidance for the development of the 5G network. They did not mention ZTE or Huawei by name but said that the next stage of wireless technology poses unique national security risks, which may disqualify certain device makers from being used by the country’s telecom carriers.
“[V]endors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorised interference or access,” the Australian government said.
Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, criticized the motives behind the ban in a daily news briefing.
“We urge the Australian government to abandon ideological prejudices and provide a fair competitive environment for Chinese companies’ operations in Australia,” he said, according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, President Trump signed a defense bill into law that included a ban against ZTE and Huawei devices. Within two years, federal agencies are required to stop using their technology. The legislation marked the latest move by the Trump administration to curtail a more dominant Chinese tech footprint out of concerns that Beijing will wield its growing digital presence to spy on U.S. businesses and jeopardize critical national infrastructure.