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Huewei snubbed By Federal Government, Internet Security Concerns

Chinese Smartphone and Communication Company Huawei who saw their PR Manager quit last month, has found themselves embroiled in a major controversy with the Federal Government over an Internet cable that the Government believes could be tapped into.

According to ASIS sources, the Federal Government was so concerned about the security and strategic risks posed by a plan for Chinese firm Huawei to build an internet cable linking the Solomon Islands to Sydney that the Federal Government has chosen to fund the building of the cable.

In other moves Johnathan Hollett has quit the Chinese Company, as Media and Communications Manager at Huawei Consumer Business Group to take up a role at Telstra.

According to Fairfax, the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed it has taken responsibility for the undersea fibreoptic cable, including paying for the bulk of the project – which will cost tens of millions of dollars – through the overseas aid program.

The step is highly significant as it shows the lengths to which the Turnbull government was willing to go to ensure the cable project could go ahead without Huawei’s involvement.

The Solomon Islands under former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare signed up Huawei Marine to lay the cable connecting to Sydney.

But Australia made it clear to Honiara that it had security concerns about the Chinese telco plugging into Australia’s internet backbone, with Nick Warner, the head of spy agency ASIS, personally warning Mr Sogavare last June.

Huawei has previously been banned on the advice of security agency ASIO from being involved in the National Broadband Network.

Mr Sogavare was replaced as prime minister in November by Rick Hou, a former senior World Bank adviser who is well respected in Australia. Mr Hou had been highly critical of the circumstances in which Huawei Marine was awarded the contract under his predecessor.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs told Fairfax Media the government has entered a contract with the Australian telecommunications firm Vocus to carry out the initial work.

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