Friday, 26 October 2012 00:00
- An abridged version of this article was published in The Australian, 26 October 2012
- Please see this article in The Independent showing that the UK intelligence and Security Committee is also considering black-listing Huawei
- Earlier Michael Danby slammed Coalition Communication Spokesmen, Malcolm Turnbull for his repeated insistence that the Liberals in government would ‘review’ the government’s bar on Huawai bidding for the NBN
- The Washington Post say US Congress House Intelligence Committee on Huawei shows lack of trust in China
- Woodroofe reflect on arguments made in this article in a piece published in The Punch titled ‘DFAT isn't ready for the Asian century’
- Please see 'Huawei Partner Soda Gostar Persian Vista Offered Banned U.S. Tech To Iran'
During his most recent tour of China (see: Australian Spectator) Alexander Downer recounted a thigh slapping dinner he’d had with the Chinese foreign minister at the palatial St Regis hotel in Beijing. There, old chums enjoyed recounting “the good old days”, when he (Downer) signalled that Australia might not support the US in what in ‘97 tensions between Taiwan and the PRC. Howard slapped him down. History doesn’t recount whether he enjoyed that or not. Downer’s astonishing disingenuousness and parroting of the China line can be seen in his repetition of the Bejing mantra “China wants security within its borders, which it defines as including Tibet and Taiwan. It also wants to be able to keep its vital sea lanes open. And certainly, it and Taiwan maintain their historic claims to much of the South China Sea”.
Former Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer and now one of the Australian directors of the Huawei board
Former Foreign Minister Downer fidelity to his new employers, Huawei, the controversial Chinese Telco is admirable. Like former leftist German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who toils for Mr Putin’s Gazprom, (Russian oil oligarchy), Downer seems full of zeal to defend Huawei. The latest criticism of Huawei, comes from a non-partisan report of the US Congress Intelligence Committee.
Former German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder and now Gazprom factotum with his boss new Russian President and strongman, Vladimir Putin, read more
The powerful US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has now released a major report (to read report click here), following protracted investigation, which concludes that Huawei cannot guarantee it is untainted by interference from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Like Downer, who alleges a Cold-War mentality by those who oppose his employer, Huawei’s US representatives claim the damming report is largely a conspiracy of “China bashers”. Yet, the non-congressional assessment is far more substantive, sober and disturbing. It lambasts the company for an overwhelming lack of candour about its corporate structure and historical ownership, criticises its refusal to provide information related to its regulatory relationship with the CCP, and questions its veracity in the paucity of documentary or other evidence it provided to Committee investigators.
The US congressional committee’s deliberations commenced on the same day last month as Huawei’s surprise appearance before Australia’s public hearing of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). Downer’s protests reflect Huawei’s objections at the Intelligence Committee public hearings to the Labor government’s decision to bar Huawei bidding on the NBN. The federal government’s decision was based on national security advice from Australia’s security services.
Testimony at public hearing in Canberra was more polite that in Washington, but no less pointed. Senator Mark Bishop and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie established that Huawei is a major telephony provider to the regime in Iran. Clearly this is UN sanction busting. Australian Senators recounted the crude boasts of Huawei salesmen that their equipment would assist Teheran leader’s in intercepting and monitoring Iran’s population. To read more click here
Cover story of the Economist magazine - 'The company that spooked the world'
Most importantly, in little noticed admissions to the public hearing last month of the Australian Intelligence Committee, Huawei admitted that a Communist Party cell had an advisory and technical role in the leadership of the firm. This is precisely the major allegation made in the Economist cover story “The Company that Spooked the World” and then in Washington.
Huawei executives who were not subpoenaed to appear before the Australian Parliamentary Intelligence Committee hearing but agreed their company was designated by the Chinese government as a “national champion” and a major operator in one of China’s seven “strategic sectors”. A “national champion” in China means market domination is assured through protectionism, taxation subsidies, and astonishingly generous access to”soft loans”. In Huawei’s case to the tune of $30b.
(Left) Huawei Deputy Chairwomen, Sun Yafang, formerly of the Communications Department of the Ministry of State Security. (Right) Founder and Chairman of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, Ex Deputy Regimental Chief, Engineering Corps, People’s Liberation Army
Concerns about security implications of allowing Huawei to bid for the spinal telephony of western countries has been a focus of security concerns, not just in Australia, the US and India. Now there seems serious rethinking in Britain and Germany. The UK’s Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee headed Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former conservative foreign minister, has confirmed that the company will be re-examined. The Guardian quoted him in contradiction to Downers’ blandishments as saying “The committee is reviewing the whole presence of Huawei in regards to critical national infrastructure and whether this should give rise to concern.” Rifkind explained that his committee will be looking at the contract between Huawei and British Telecom, and whether the Chinese telecom’s deep involvement in UK telephony was a security concern.
Germany’s national research and education network Deutsche Forschung Net (DFN) has denied Huawei the right to bid for upgrading the German Network, again following Australia’s lead on security (see: Huawei Denied German Bid).
Former Prime Minister John Howard addressed the issue of Australia’s relationship with China, including our commercial relationship and foreign investment. He sensibly argued that close ties with China can be forged without weakening our alliance with the US. He made the reasonable point that as a capital dependent and non-discriminatory country Australia “we should welcome Chinese investment, just as in the past we welcomed British, American and Japanese investment.” John Howard argues convincingly that Australia is not required to make a choice between Beijing and Washington. Addressing the military build up of the CCCP (see: Asian Defense Spending, 2000–2011) he explains that the Chinese pre-occupation with continued economic growth, leaves little room for foreign military excursions, “unless she is provoked.” The Former Prime Minister gives context to this whole Huawei controversy when he puts the widely accepted and hopeful nostrum: “that it is difficult to accept that growing Chinese economic liberalism will continue to walk hand in hand with political authoritarianism.”
China has a great civilisation. Dragging 300 million people out of poverty is to be commended. It doesn’t follow that a left-of-centre Australian Government should not to follow ASIO advice. Especially when the firm headed by a former military engineer and whose vice president is from the Chinese military intelligence (see: Turnbull should put security first). We mustn’t listen to the siren songs of former politicians like Schroeder, Downer or Brumby, who are as we say during Spring Racing Carnival are backing a horse called “Self Interest”.
Australian Huawei Board chaired by former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, including former Victorian Premier, John Brumby. Chaired by cheif chair spokesmen, Admiral General John Lord
- A formidable Coalition critical of the US (in favour accommodating China) is forming on the political Right – “How Mining Oligarchs are bending the ear of the Coalition”
- The United States Congressional Intelligence Committee finds that Huawei and ZTE are a national security risk; confirming wisdom of the Australian government decision to ban Huawei from bidding for work on the NBN. See a video report on Lateline
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