Thursday, 14 February 2019 11:05

Huawei tells partners ASPI 'spreading anti-China message'

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Huawei tells partners ASPI 'spreading anti-China message' Pixabay

The Australian arm of Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies has gone on the offensive against the lobby group, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, writing to three companies who are sponsors of ASPI and also have relationships with Huawei, accusing the group of biased comments.

Huawei Australia Corporate and Public Affairs director Jeremy Mitchell said in the letter, sent to Telstra, Google and the Australian division of French defence giant Thales, that most of the local media reports about Huawei contained negative comments made by ASPI personnel.

Mitchell said that "ASPI seems to have an unhealthy fixation on our company that has crossed the threshold of independent fact-based thinking to become the 'go to' organisation for all things anti-China".

He said Huawei had offered ASPI the opportunity to visit its headquarters in Shenzhen and get a first-hand of its global operations but the lobby group had refused to engage.

Among ASPI's main sponsors are shipbuilder Austal, US defence contractor Lockheed Martin, Swedish defence company Saab, the Australian arm of American defence contractor Raytheon, MBDA Missile Systems, accounting firm KPMG and Jacobs, a global provider of technical, professional, and scientific services.

Its cyber policy centre is backed by French defence contractor Thales, Google, au domain namespace administrator auDA, security firm Palo Alto Networks, the Federal Government, Jacobs and encryption company Senetas.

The US has been campaigning for at least the last two years to try and get countries that it considers allies not to use Huawei equipment in the rollout of 5G networks. Australia has bowed to these wishes, as has New Zealand.

As iTWire  reported on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump may issue an executive order this week banning the use of telecommunications equipment from Chinese companies in American wireless networks.

Mitchell said as a Chinese firm, Huawei had to clear a higher bar in many markets. "That's why Huawei goes the extra mile to provide your customers with the highest levels of security."

He offered the three companies official briefings. "As a partner of Huawei, I wanted to offer to you and your senior management the opportunity to receive any fact-based briefings or information you may need," he said. "It is vital these important policy areas are addressed sensibly and carefully."

A Thales Australia spokesperson said the company was a longstanding ASPI supporter and would continue to back its role as a public forum for security issues.

""As a global leader in digital security we provide secure solutions appropriate to our customers," the spokesperson added.

"All companies operating in Australia need to respect Australia's sovereign right to apply security arrangements based on the best advice of security agencies, and comply with those requirements."

ASPI was also contacted and the head of its International Cyber Policy Centre, Fergus Hanson, responded: "We are an independent think tank that does applied empirical research. We pride ourselves on that and that's what people come to ASPI for. I accept not everyone will like the findings of that research, but that's the role of a think-tank in a democracy."

iTWire also contacted Telstra and Google for their take on the letter, but neither company responded by the time of publication.

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Sam Varghese

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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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