Australia became the first country to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from providing superfast 5G technologies last year, citing security concerns. This came in the wake of the United States accusing the company of illegal surveillance on behalf of the Chinese government.
Huawei has warned that Canberra’s ban on the Chinese company’s participation in the development of advanced 5G technologies could cost the Australian market up to 1,500 jobs among suppliers and contractors, according to remarks by top Huawei official Jeremy Mitchell, prepared for an annual supplier summit on Monday and seen in advance by The Sydney Morning Herald and Financial Times.
Mitchell, who is Huawei Australia’s director of corporate and public affairs, stated that the company has already cut 100 of its 800 jobs in Australia and would not be able to provide more employment opportunities in the country unless the ban is reversed.
“Our suppliers are overwhelmingly small to medium-sized businesses employing about 30 people and in many cases Huawei is currently delivering around 80 percent of their annual revenues — so without us they are in huge trouble”, the official added.
Mitchell expressed hope that Huawei will be allowed to participate in the rollout of Australia’s superfast 5G technologies and condemned organisations trying to damage the company’s reputation through “smear” campaigns and unfair criticism by saying that discussions around cyber security should be “based on facts” and not on “baseless innuendo”. The firm also said it will appoint a law firm to pursue legal claims against organisations that try to damage Huawei’s reputation in Australia.
Last year, Australia became the first country to ban Huawei and another Chinese telecom company ZTE from participating in a national rollout of 5G technologies, which the tech giant remains a leading provider of. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended this decision on Monday, by saying that it was in the country’s “national interest”.
Huawei has also been effectively barred from other 5G markets, including Japan’s, following the US assault on the company last year and concerns over intelligence sharing between western allies.
In May 2019, the US blacklisted Huawei and around 70 of its subsidiary companies from doing business with American companies and purchasing US technology, citing national security concerns. It accused Huawei of industrial espionage and the use of equipment for illegal surveillance purposes on behalf of the Chinese government. Both Beijing and Huawei have repeatedly denied any spying activities or data sharing.