Huawei banned in NBN supplier bid due to ASIO’s fears of army ties

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Photo: Kainet/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The Australian Government reportedly stopped Chinese mobile equipment maker Huawei Technologies from bidding to become a major supplier to the National Broadband Network, over fears of cyber attacks from China and its CEO’s links to the army.

According to The Australian Financial Review, the Attorney-General’s office told the company that they were banned – despite a reported endorsement by NBN Co’s technology department. That advice was given to the Gillard government by intelligence ASIO.

Huawei has rapidly grown to become a big player in telecommunications equipment, and has already won contracts to assist Vodafone’s network upgrades and Optus’ rollout of a 4G network in Newcastle – in addition to several telcos internationally.

However, there have been some concerns on the part of Huawei over its CEO, who was formerly part of the People’s Liberation Army in China. In addition, with China has become a major technological threat due to spates of cyber attacks – including those against Google, the company has sparked fears that it could provide a back door for hackers.

As noted by the AFR:

Because of its perceived links to the Chinese government, the company has encountered criticism in the United States, amid allegations it violated sanctions by supplying the Iranian government with equipment used for censorship.

Huawei recently scaled back its activities in Iran and privately dismisses the criticism as the product of lobbying of US lawmakers by its competitors.

Huawei has rejected the criticism and accusations. It’s Australian director of corporate and public affairs, Jeremy Mitchell, told ZDNet Australia back in 2010 that it was “upsetting and disappointing that these sort of faceless accusations get made.”

“But we know that those in the telecom industry know us, they know our reputation, and as I said, you know, you don’t get to the position that we get — number one in fixed networks across the globe — unless you deliver,” he said.

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