In Depth

Why Australia has banned Huawei and ZTE’s 5G technology

Chinese foreign ministry accuses the country of using ‘ideological prejudices’ to ‘erect barriers’

Chinese mobile giants Huawei and ZTE have been banned from supplying equipment for a 5G network in Australia over national security concerns.

Huawei broke the news through its Twitter page yesterday afternoon, saying that it had been informed by the Australian government that it, along with Chinese tech firm ZTE, had “been banned from providing 5G technology” in the country.

“This is a extremely disappointing result for consumers,” the company said on Twitter. “Huawei is a world leader in 5G. Has safely & securely delivered wireless technology in Aust for close to 15 yrs.”

In a statement sent to Reuters, the Australian government said its national security regulations, which had already applied to network carriers, will now apply to technology companies as well. 

Technology firms which “are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government” could expose Australian networks to interference or unauthorised access, the statement said.

Analysts told the Financial Times that “extrajudicial directions” refers to requirements under Chinese law that mandate the nation’s companies to “assist and co-operate with security agencies when directed to by Beijing”.

The move could have “global implications”, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s cyber policy chief, Fergus Hanson.

Speaking to the FT, Hanson said the importance of developing ultra-fast 5G networks could mean “other western countries are likely to review their own rules” over companies working with foreign governments. 

Responding to the ban, Lu Kang, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, accused Australia of using the tech companies connections’ with Beijing to “artificially erect barriers”, the BBC reports.

The minist.ry called on Australia to “abandon ideological prejudices and provide a fair competitive environment for Chinese companies”

This is not the first time Huawei and ZTE have clashed with governments over their ties with security agencies in Beijing. 

In May, the US banned Huawei and ZTE phones on its military bases because of concerns the devices were recording private information, CNet reports.

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