China concerned by Huawei NBN ban, says Bob Carr


blog Foreign Minister Bob Carr hit up the ABC’s flagship current affairs program 7:30 last night and was quizzed by host Chris Uhlmann on, among other things, the attitude of Chinese officials to the Federal Government’s move to block Chinese networking gear supplier Huawei from participating in National Broadband Network contracts. We recommend you check out the full transcript and video interview with Carr online here.

Carr has just left China following the kind of open and wide-ranging discussions with Australia’s major partners which new Foreign Ministers often embark upon (he’s now in Japan). The former NSW Premier had this to say about Chinese views on the Huawei ban:

“I think it’s indisputable that China is concerned about this and objects to the decision we made. My position with my Chinese interlocutors is that this decision was made on security grounds and that a government is entitled to make a decision on national broadband infrastructure based on the security and the resilience of that infrastructure. And that’s the position we made. I don’t think any other country in the world would have made a different decision in the circumstances. And I’d like to think that on the bottom line, after due consideration, the Chinese would accept this.”

To me it sounds as if China’s not going to forget this, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some repercussions for Australian companies attempting to operate in China. What we’re seeing here is concern being expressed about this highly unorthodox and controversial decision at the highest diplomatic levels which the two countries have access to. Huawei’s presence and dominance of the telecommunications field is only going to grow in Australia, and I anticipate that this issue will come up again and again for the Federal Government.

I also don’t quite think the branches of the Federal Government dealing with this issue (ASIO and the Attorney-General’s Department) really understand the commercial and technical dynamics of the telecommunications and networking hardware segments of the broader technology sector. But then, that’s no real surprise, given the form the Attorney-General’s Department has in the area.

Image credit: Screencap of 7:30 broadcast, believed to be covered under fair use


  1. The Huawei NBN ban is a really stupid one if you think about it. I mean the government is SO concerned about spying yet they want to spy on every Australian and log our internet histories. Why waste the time money and resources? Let Huawei and China spy on us instead, if anything nefarious should show up they can tell us. Think about it, if any terrorists plan anything they wouldn’t want anything to happen to their biggest customer. Win win if you ask me.

  2. If I remember rightly, I think I read once that some of our defence satellites are owned by the Singaporean government.

    • To clarify this, Defence has payload on one of the Optus satellites (C3 if I remember correctly without looking it up, but it could be C1). This payload is independently controlled without Optus (though the Satellite itself is typically controlled by an Optus Earth Station).

      The Earth Station facilities are off limits to any Singtel employee (and anyone else of course), right down to the point that if they do enter it has to be under security escort, and any employees who work directly on the satellite control require security clearance. And to top it off a time of war Defence is able to gain control of every satellite, probably because it would need them.

      In simply terms that’s an unfair comparison, the security details here to stop Singtel or any other foreign body, whether they literally be foreign of Australians with bad intent, were sorted out when Singtel originally purchased Optus.

  3. *cough* Of course, it’s totally out of the question that big company X from the USA would put a backdoor in their routers for CALEA compliance or NSA support or something… of course, having our great and powerful friend do communications intercepts is different isn’t it?

  4. I don’t see the Huawei issue as an Australian vs. Chinese supplier issue. The other Chinese supplier ZTE, is doing very well in Australia, with the carriers and some Government Departments. The issue is about Huawei’s heritage and links that the company has with the Chinese PLA.
    ZTE is listed company, both on the Shenzen and Hong Kong exchange, with independent auditors and open books.
    So we should be careful to not make this an Australian-Chinese issue and stick to the concern at hand, and that is the security risk that is proposed by a Vendor that is privately owned with DOCUMENTED heritage to the Chinese PLA.

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