In the wake of Tuesday’s victory in securing access to the UK 5G infrastructure market, Huawei may now make a move to try to overturn a ban on developing the technology in Australia.
Speaking to The Australian, Huawei Australia corporate and public affairs director Jeremy Mitchell said that he has been meeting with the communications ministry to try to put the Chinese company back in the running for Australia’s 5G project.
“Our question is, if [the UK] can do it, why can’t Australia? We hope we can have a good, sensible, fact-based discussion about the possibility of using our leadership and innovation in Australia,” Mitchell said.
Huawei's bid was excluded from consideration for Australia's 5G network in 2018. The company was similarly barred from the National Broadband Network project in 2012.
Two Reasons Why Huawei Could Prevail
Choong-Fook Fong, CEO of Malaysia-based information security consultancy LGMS, believes that in the wake of the UK's decision, Australia, New Zealand and even Canada could follow suit in approving Huawei for their 5G network infrastructure.
“There are two reasons why I come to this assumption,” the cybersecurity expert said in a written interview. 1) 5G equipment markets including chipsets are primarily dominated by the US right now, but the Chinese already have big market share on earlier deployments and an install base that allows them to swiftly retrofit and convert into 5G capable networks.”
This, the analyst noted, means that “for any countries that are already heavily dependent on Chinese telecommunications equipment, it may be hard for them to overhaul their networks and swap them entirely into US equipment without sacrificing time and resources. And this is not a favourable situation to the US telecommunications manufacturers.”
Secondly, Fong explained, China can beat the US and any other country on the price of their telecommunications equipment, especially once they become totally independent of US components.
Therefore, he noted, the global battle for 5G “will end up as a business decision: Do we look at the price and be practical about whether we want to buy from cheaper Chinese 5G manufacturers, or choose to believe the myth that the US is always propagating and buy from the US – which is far more expensive? Unless the US can provide clear evidence that Chinese 5G manufacturers are indeed spying," the issue will be a moot point. "Otherwise, anything without proof will just be a myth, and myths shatter over time. Price prevails.”
Huawei 5G and Its Implications for the Five Eyes Alliance
On Thursday, speaking at a forum in London alongside UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Prime Minister Johnson over his move to allow Huawei to take part in the UK’s 5G rollout.
“This is not about a technical back door. They have the front door,” Pompeo warned. “When you allow the information of your citizens or the national security information of your citizens to transit a network that the Chinese Communist Party has a legal mandate to obtain, it creates a risk,” he added, emphasizing that Beijing’s values do not align with those of the West.
Previously, Washington warned that allowing Huawei to take part in 5G in any of the member states of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) would compromise the bloc's intelligence-sharing capabilities. Commenting on this side of the issue, Fong pointed out that US government agencies already carried out a thorough and costly 18-month security review of Huawei devices in 2012, failing to find “any evidence” that the company was working with the Chinese government to spy on any foreign citizens, Americans included.
“From the Asian perspective, it is obvious that Washington is using the fear factor of the Chinese adversary to pressure the Five Eyes alliance into compliance with its accusations,” the analyst observed. At the same time, he stressed that “independent decisions and actions from any of the alliance members will certainly shake the bond among its members, particularly within the international community.”
Ultimately, Fong suggested that viewed from a global view, the issue at hand is not only about 5G infrastructure, but the technology’s potential to revolutionize many other industries, from education to logistics, health care and more. “This technology alone will create exponential ripple effects to propel the economies and competitiveness for early 5G-adopting countries. It’s worth noting that some of these countries may not be friendly with the US, for example Russia, African countries, Pakistan, etc. Are such potentially booming effects on the economies of these countries a concern to Washington? Perhaps only they can answer that,” the analyst concluded.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.