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AustraliaWhy Australia is prepared to ban Huawei from its 5G network while the UK and Germany aren't

22:22  06 march  2019
22:22  06 march  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Why Australia is prepared to ban Huawei from its 5G network while the UK and Germany aren't© Provided by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Why Australia is prepared to ban Huawei from its 5G network while the UK and Germany aren't While Australia was quick to exclude Huawei equipment from its 5G network, several major allies including the UK are not convinced that a ban is warranted.

Germany and the UK have their eyes wide open to the alleged risks Huawei poses to their national security, but they also believe those risks can be managed.

Why Australia is prepared to ban Huawei from its 5G network while the UK and Germany aren't
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Even Chuck Robbins, the chief executive of Cisco — one of Huawei's main competitors — reportedly suggested on Sunday that fears of Huawei's 5G dominance may be overblown.

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And while Australia and the US have currently closed the door on Huawei, experts are divided on whether the remaining three members of the Five Eyes alliance — drawing together the intelligence services of the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia —are likely to follow suit.

They do however agree that the allies are under pressure, as their decisions could have an impact on the Five Eyes intelligence relationship.

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Let's take a look at where different countries are at with their decisions, and why Australia may have been so quick to make up its mind.

Why is the UK not so worried about Huawei?

The UK has long taken a different path to Australia and the US in its attitude towards Huawei.

While Huawei was barred from major projects in Australia like the National Broadband Network (NBN) from as early as 2012, the company's hardware has been used in the UK's networks — such as the BT Group and Vodafone — for many years.

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Huawei and the UK Government also set up a special cyber security evaluation centre which allows authorities to evaluate the products the firm uses in the UK market.

"[The UK] sort of went early in terms of buying into Huawei and believing that they could manage the risks … so they've basically taken a different view from other countries," Fergus Hanson from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute told the ABC.

"It's harder for the UK to wind that decision back, or more expensive."

And while the BT Group confirmed in December that it would be removing all Huawei equipment from key parts of its 3G and 4G networks, the country's top cybersecurity official recently defended the country's approach to Huawei.

Ciaran Martin, head of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre, told a cybersecurity conference in Brussels last month that Britain could manage the security risks involved with using Huawei equipment.

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"Because of our 15 years of dealings with the company and 10 years of a formally agreed mitigation strategy which involves detailed provision of information, we have a wealth of understanding of the company," he said.

"We also have strict controls for how Huawei is deployed. It is not in any sensitive networks — including those of the Government. Its kit is part of a balanced supply chain with other suppliers."

Meanwhile, Jeremy Fleming, director of the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), told a lecture delivered to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore in February that the UK had not made a decision about 5G.

He said the GCHQ was "at the heart" of a telecoms infrastructure review due sometime between March and June — the review is expected to include recommendations on Huawei.

Cisco chief Mr Robbins told CNN on Sunday that governments should not be concerned about Huawei dominating the race to build 5G networks because the current infrastructure around the world was built on a combination of communication suppliers from "everywhere".

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"And I think that despite everything that we hear, I think that's going to be the case in the future as well," he was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

Mr Robbins' comments came a week after the release of Cisco's annual mobile Visual Networking Index report, predicting that 5G cellular networks will power as many as 9 per cent of mobile data connections across North America, compared with 4 per cent in Asia.

Are Germany and the UK likely to follow suit?

As Huawei faces growing scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese Government, the US is continuing its pressure campaign on allies to freeze out Huawei from their upcoming 5G networks.

US Vice President Mike Pence used his speech at the 2019 Munich Security Conference last month to urge allies to turn their backs on Huawei, painting the telecommunications supplier as a severe security threat.

"We must protect our critical telecom infrastructure, and America is calling on all our security partners to be vigilant and to reject any enterprise that would compromise the integrity of our communications technology or our national security system," he said.

Clive Williams, visiting fellow at the Australian National University's Centre for Military and Security Law, told the ABC that some leaders of the UK intelligence community would no doubt like to see the UK fall into line with the US, in order to safeguard the Five Eyes intelligence relationship.

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But Professor Williams noted that the UK "had never been afraid to adopt contrary policies to the US, and does not seem to have suffered in the past from doing so".

Mr Hanson believed the UK would be under a lot of pressure from the US and Australia — and would probably have to follow suit — but added that it was not a "slam-dunk decision".

In Germany, the Government has ruled out an outright ban targeting Huawei, but no official decisions have yet been made.

However, lobby groups in the telecoms industry have warned that sideling Huawei would delay the roll-out of 5G by years and cost the country billions, according to Bloomberg.

Asked about the approaches taken by the UK and Canada to Huawei, a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said the Australian Government does not intend to comment on the decision of other countries or governments.

Why did the US and Australia decide to ban Huawei?

Intelligence officials say allowing Huawei to participate in the countries' 5G mobile networks would create national security risks.

But Professor Williams said there were suspicions that US officials and electronics business leaders publicly expressed security concerns without supporting evidence, in order to give American companies a competitive edge.

"Australia and New Zealand are always quick to fall into line with the US when it comes to publicly expressing US security concerns because they want to be seen as close reliable allies," he said.

"They are prepared to pay more for an inferior 5G product if that's what it takes to maintain the close relationship."

'Australia will pay': Huawei executive slams Australia's former PM over his 5G warning

'Australia will pay': Huawei executive slams Australia's former PM over his 5G warning A senior Huawei executive has criticised former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for urging the UK to boycott Huawei's equipment when building out its 5G network. Turnbull gave a strongly-worded warning about Huawei's 5G technology at a speech in London last week where he urged Britain not to use Huawei's telecommunications equipment as it poses a national security risk. On Thursday, Jeremy Mitchell, Huawei's director of corporate and public affairs for Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, published a 1,301 word blog post where he said "Australia will pay" as a result of Turnbull's comments.

A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs told the ABC that while the Government recognised the opportunities 5G networks presented, it was also important to ensure that Australia's information and communications was protected at all times.

"Following an extensive review, the Australian Government is advising the companies that will build these networks [network operators] that they must ensure the protection of Australia's interests above all others," the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Mr Hanson said Australia was simply at a "crunch point" where network operators had to make a decision about big investments in 5G.

"Unless you give the market clear guidance about what equipment they can use or can't use, people can't make proper investment decisions," he said.

Professor Ping Chen, a senior research fellow at Fudan University's China Institute in Shanghai, said US officials had long been using non-economic means — using reasons like national security — to contain competitors.

"Now Washington is using Huawei's 5G as an issue, I think this reflects the loss of confidence in the United States [in terms of being the leader in 5G telecom equipment development]."

Professor Chen said that at present, Australia had no reason to "pick sides" between China and the US.

"This is a psychological warfare carried out by the United States. This narrative is harder to sell in the States. I hope Australia would not be fooled by that."

On Tuesday, Huawei told The Australian that it had not yet been banned from supplying 5G gear in New Zealand, Britain and even formally in US enterprise.

The ABC has approached Huawei for a response but the company did not respond by publication time.

Read more

'Australia will pay': Huawei executive slams Australia's former PM over his 5G warning.
A senior Huawei executive has criticised former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for urging the UK to boycott Huawei's equipment when building out its 5G network. Turnbull gave a strongly-worded warning about Huawei's 5G technology at a speech in London last week where he urged Britain not to use Huawei's telecommunications equipment as it poses a national security risk. On Thursday, Jeremy Mitchell, Huawei's director of corporate and public affairs for Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, published a 1,301 word blog post where he said "Australia will pay" as a result of Turnbull's comments.

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