Tuesday, 14 July 2020 17:45

Xenophon says Ericsson confirmed Panda Australian supply role in parliamentary hearing Featured

Xenophon says Ericsson confirmed Panda Australian supply role in parliamentary hearing Image by sipa from Pixabay

Former Independent senator Nick Xenophon has accused both Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson and local telco Telstra of "engaging in Olympic class word games" to avoid an inconvenient truth: their 5G equipment is being manufactured in China with a joint-venture partner cited by the US as being under the thumb of the People's Liberation Army.

Xenophon was referring to the company Panda Electronics which was named in a list drawn up by the Pentagon and made public on 27 June.

He pointed to the fact that Ericsson had responded to a question from Labor MP Ed Husic during a public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts on 19 February, saying that equipment from its joint-venture with Panda Electronics was being supplied to Australian customers – and that included Telstra.

The former Senator from South Australia, who runs the legal firm XenophonDavis along with former ace journalist Mark Davis, has an advisory role with Huawei, helping the company to fight slurs against its reputation.

Xenophon, who also raised the issue when he appeared on Sky News on Sunday night, said: "Ericsson is engaging in semantics when it says that it does not use components from its partner Panda Electronics Group in its 5G technology in Australia."


The list of Chinese companies issued by the US Departtment of Defence and claimed to be owned or controlled by the People's Liberation Amry.

Huawei was banned from bidding for contracts to supply equipment for the Australian 5G networks in August 2018. No reason was given for the ban and in fact, the names of Huawei and its Chinese compatriot ZTE Corporation, were not mentioned in the ban statement either.

Xenophon said it was disingenuous for Ericsson to now say that Panda Electronics itself did not supply 5G “components” in its kit. "In fact, Panda Electronics is a key player in the joint-venture that manufactures the kit," he averred.

"The reality is that the US Department of Defence has cited Panda Electronics as being controlled by the PLA and it is manufacturing our national carrier Telstra’s 5G kit – how can that possibly pass the ‘pub test’?

"Huawei is an entirely private company that has been slurred in Australia as being a plaything of the Chinese Communist Party, when it is clearly not. It is a capitalist success story, not a communist front. Now we have a Scandinavian company given the tick of approval to operate here when it manufactures its gear through a company allegedly controlled by the People's Liberation Army. Go figure."

He dismissed Telstra's claims that it did not use kit from Chinese vendors as "simply creating a straw man argument".

"Their kit is being made in China by a joint-venture the US Government says is controlled by the PLA. The reality is that the ban on Huawei gave Telstra an enormous advantage in the 5G marketplace over Optus and Vodafone – yet all along its kit has been made by a partner that, according to the US Department of Defence, is a huge potential security risk – how is that in any way acceptable?

"These recent developments have again highlighted the total lack of due process and transparency in what Huawei has been subjected to. Australia prides itself as being a country where the rule of law applies – rules that appear to have been ignored or broken when it comes to Huawei."

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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