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China Slam “Politically Motivated” Oz 5G Ban

China’s representatives at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Council have slammed Australia’s restriction on Chinese 5G telecoms as “obviously discriminative”, and potentially breaking global trade rules.

Under WTO rules, member countries are not permitted to discriminate against trading partners or reject imports from a particular country, unless they cite “national security”.

The Australian government banned Chinese telco Huawei from supplying equipment for its 5G mobile network in August 2018 citing national security risks.

Huawei has since referred to this move as being “politically motivated.”

According to a transcript reported by Reuters, China’s representatives believe that the 5G ban has a “great impact on international trade” and would isolate Australia as well as fail to address concerns regarding cybersecurity.

“Country-specific and discriminatory restriction measures can not address the concerns on cybersecurity, nor make anyone safe, but only disrupt the global industrial chain, and make the country itself isolated from the application of better technology,” said a diplomat at the meeting.

Although member countries are permitted to cite “national security” as a reason for blocking another member’s imports, it is not generally done for fear of setting a precedent.

Last week, the WTO clarified the exemption stating that apart from warm and the arms trade, national security meant “a situation of armed conflict, or of latent armed conflict, or of heightened tension or crisis, or of general instability engulfing or surrounding a state.”

Meaning that Australia may have to accept Huawei’s technologies or risk blowback from WTO.

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