UPDATE: ‘Huawei’ takes a stand, Australia bans trade with Chinese corp

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Huawei denies accusations of trade violations and hacking. Meanwhile, products banned from Australia.

UPDATE: Followup to Friday’s story, click here to read.

If Huawei, the Chinese telecom manufacturer under investigation by the EU, could fall any further from grace, Australia’s recent ban should do the trick.

Australia is the latest key player caught up in the issue when it followed the US and blocked Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from tendering for the National Broadband Network, the NBN.

This development comes only days after allegations of foul play began against Huawei, citing violations of anti-trading and anti-subsidy guidelines in Europe.

Total Telecom reports that Huawei signed a contract to supply transmission equipment and routers for BT’s 21st Century Network in 2005. The Intelligence and Security Committee said that in 2008 it was warned by the U.K. Security Service that China may be able to exploit weaknesses in Huawei’s equipment for the purposes of gaining access to BT’s infrastructure.   

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Huawei’s corporate senior vice president Chen Lifang denies espionage accusations.

Last week, Huawei insisted its products pose no threat to the U.K.’s national security after the U.K. government criticized the decision to approve BT’s use of the Chinese vendor.

However, it did little to quell the growing security concerns surrounding China’s telecom colossus.

Now that it is fielding condemnation from the world’s largest powerhouses, it seems like Australia is just the first of many disgruntled nations to come out of the woodwork against Huawei.

The company, based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, has refuted claims by the US House Intelligence Committee since 2010 that the company could potentially build so-called “backdoors” into the likes of the NBN to allow for Chinese eavesdropping.

“It’s impossible for Huawei to install any backdoors or vulnerabilities into our products. This is not only verified by ourselves but also third parties,” Chen Lifang, the company’s corporate senior vice president, said.

Though prohibited from building the Australian NBN, Huawei is still supplying mobile phone infrastructure for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

“It’s led some to question why this would be allowed if the NBN build wasn’t,” Stephen McDonnell said in a Radio Australia interview with Lifang today. “And even without Huawei, it seems some NBN material is coming from China anyway via contract winner Alcatel-Lucent.”

“Our clients won’t lose their faith in Huawei because of some politicians’ accusations about us,” Lifang said.

Despite the controversy surrounding Huawei, its growth has been huge, with 2012 profits up by 33 per cent. Although the company only started selling smartphones two years ago, last year it sold 32 million of them.

This year, that’ll be 60 million.

“We’ve been working with our customers for 25 years and this mutual trust won’t be destroyed by some bad words by just one or two people.”


Launch 3 Telecom, leading distributor of telecommunications equipment, will provide updates on this story as more information becomes available.