Business / Companies

Huawei makes a stand "down under"

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-10-25 10:42

SYDNEY --- After finding itself blocked from bidding on national contracts, Chinese telcom Huawei has wrested back the initiative by offering unrestricted access to its software through the creation of a cyber security center in Australia.

In a speech to the National Press Club, Huawei Australia Chairman John Lord proposed the creation of a cyber security evaluation center, saying that vendors, operators, and governments must find ways to work together on methods to enhance cyber security. Notably, Lord said that no one has all the answers to tackling cyber threats.

"Huawei is proposing the establishment of a national cyber security evaluation center, to test the security credentials of technologies being implemented into critical infrastructure projects," Lord said.

"As information and communications technology plays an increasingly significant function in critical infrastructure projects around the world, all nations will need to take a step in this direction at some point," he added.

Huawei has unfairly been the subject of a highly critical congressional report in the United States, perhaps prompting Lord to table the security center reminiscent of a similar concept in the United Kingdom which independently evaluates foreign-made technology.

"If Australia is to effectively mitigate risk in our communications networks, we must establish universal, transparent frameworks to provide security assurance for all vendors," Lord said in a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra.

He in fact challenged both the government and the private sector to meet Huawei's standards of security and cooperation.

"In the interests of national security, we believe all other vendors should be subject to the same high standard of transparency."

Huawei has almost 1,000 employees in Australia and plays an integral role in local sponsorship and community, despite the popular perception that it remains a company too closely connected to Chinese state interests, a contentious issue in Australia where Chinese investment is desperately needed.

Jim Harrowell, president of the Australia China Business Council in NSW told Xinhua on the sidelines of the Sydney China Business Forum last month that comments coming out of the Liberal- National Coalition were emblematic of a wider hostility to Chinese investment.

"It doesn't make sense... there appears to be a real challenge for western countries to come to grips with China's success. It's an emotional reaction, an old cold war reaction."

Chinese investors have been wary of Australia's investment environment after the federal government blocked Huawei from bidding on the National Broadband Network citing security concerns.

Despite its initial bid, Huawei has never been told of the reasons behind the government's decision to exclude it from the multi-billion-dollar NBN project.

"We are disappointed, we have accepted the government's decision and we have moved on," Lord said.

In a speech titled "Globalization, Innovation, and Security: The way forward for Huawei," he detailed Huawei's history, growth, and local ambitions; noting that Australia must continue to reap the benefits of new technologies as Asia takes a leadership role in innovation and the development of intellectual property.

"Huawei is here in Australia for the long-haul. We will continue to invest in developing the technology which will drive this industry and the greater economy forward. This new era will bring a wealth of exciting and unforeseen technology developments, and we are only beginning to comprehend the potential of this transformation. Australia must reap the benefits offered by the globalized ICT industry and the innovation pouring out of Asia and China."

Earlier this year, Foreign Minister Bob Carr encouraged Huawei to stick with Australia regardless of the NBN decision.

With the US congressional report recommending local US companies refrain from engaging with Huawei products over security concerns, Lord was frank in his assessment.

"The US committee report must be called for what it really is - protectionism, not security," He said.

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