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China, Vodafone and Optus Upset By Huawei Block

Scott Morrison, in his brief tenure as Home Affairs Minister, has drawn the ire of the Chinese Government, Vodafone and Optus by blocking Huawei from Australia’s 5G.

The core issue behind the decision is whether or not Huawei can be legally obliged by the Chinese government to collect data or otherwise use their infrastructure to aid a foreign government, namely China.

The Chinese government has criticised the decision through official and unofficial channels.

A spokesperson from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said that Australia’s decision would “exert negative influence” on both Chinese and Australian companies, calling on the Australian government to adhere to the principles of fairness and openness.

The spokesperson commented “Australia should look at the big picture of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, rather than easily interfere with and restrict normal business activities in the name of national security.”

Outside of official government channels, the Global Times ran editorials criticising the decision as well.

The paper, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, claimed that Australia was following America into economically protectionist policy settings.

The editorial further claimed that national security was being used as an excuse to discriminate against Chinese companies and as a way to isolate Hauwei from the global market.

The author writes “Washington and its followers boycotting Chinese producers should be aware that the world’s largest telecommunications market is in China and the largest comprehensive market in the future is also in China,

“Those who willfully hurt Chinese companies with an excuse of national security will meet their nemesis.”

Vodafone and Optus also voiced their concerns. Both companies already use Huawei equipment in their 4G networks and were hoping for an associated advantage over Telstra based on their shared previous experience with the Chinese tech giant.

VHA (Vodafone) chief strategy officer Dan Lloyd criticised the timing, considering the decision too close to the spectrum auction and as a result “fundamentally undermines Australia’s 5G future, and we will consider what it means for our business”.

Optus took a more reserved approach to the news, with vice-president for Regulatory and Public Affairs Andrew Sheridan commenting “Optus welcomes the certainty that the government’s 5G security guidance provides to the industry,

“Optus has a mix of vendors in its mobile network and we remain well-positioned to lead in the delivery of 5G services.”

“Optus shares the government’s objectives of ensuring the security of Australia’s information, communications and critical infrastructure.

“Our track record demonstrates collaboration with government, departmental agencies and vendors to develop appropriate controls and safeguards to ensure that our network and services remain secure. Optus will comply with the guidance.”

Interested parties had expected the decision for months, with the US and the UK and Canada making their differing positions on the choice clear.

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