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Huawei ban deepens Australia-China rift

CANBERRA, Australia: Chinese telecom giant Huawei has been banned by Australian government for its alleged involvement in its future 5G networks.

“Australia is actually ahead of the US on the ban, we have banned Huawei from all 5G builds, not just government networks, and this was an entirely sovereign decision,” said Tom Uren, senior analyst at Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.

Canberra had excluded Huawei from the national broadband network in 2011, way before Washington’s campaign against the tech giant.

The ban was extended last year to the nation’s 5G network amidst concerns of “possible” espionage through the Chinese technology.

In a recent press conference held at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, the head of Australian studies at East China Normal University Chen Hong accused Australia of acting as a “pawn” for the United States in lobbying other countries against Huawei.

“Australia has been in one way or another, so to speak, pioneering this kind of anti-China campaign, even some kind of a scare and smear campaign against China,” Hong said.

“That is definitely not what China will be appreciating, and if other countries follow suit, that is going to be recognized as extremely unfriendly,” he added.

After last week meetings in Beijing, opposition’s defense spokesman Richard Marles called the bi-lateral relationship “terrible.”

Most Australians are convinced that Beijing uses inducements, threats, espionage and other covert tactics to influence the government.

Clive Hamilton, the author of “Silent Invasion”-a best seller on Chinese influence in the country, said “Australia is seen as a test bed for Beijing’s high-pressure influence tactics.”

“They are testing the capacity of the Australian democratic system to resist,” he remarked.

China had sent three scholars of late for interviews with Australian media and other forums to mend the deepening rift with Canberra, a move that did not receive warm reciprocation.