Asia Minute: Huawei’s Mixed History in Australia

Dec 10, 2018

The Huawei P10
Credit Petar Milošević / Wikimedia Commons

The Chinese technology company Huawei has been accused of fraud by the U.S. government – trying to get around trade sanctions on Iran. While the company was unfamiliar to many Americans until recently, it’s already had a controversial history with Australia.

Huawei is a Chinese technology giant.

The company sells more smart phones in China than Apple does. It’s also the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker — doing a fair amount of its business outside China.

Huawei has been in Australia for 14 years working with two local branches of international telecommunications companies: Vodaphone Hutchison Australia and Singtel Optus. Those companies partner with Huawei in their 3G and 4G mobile networks – the Chinese firm also sells smart phones down under.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the company has more than 700 employees across Australia.

But Huawei has never had any business relationship with Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra.

Huawei set up a local board of directors in Australia in 2011 with an eye to bidding on the government’s plans to establish a National Broadband Network. The next year, the Prime Minister banned Huawei from the process on the advice of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

Credit Huawei

The restrictions have intensified.

Earlier this year, the government banned Huawei from any role in supplying local telecommunications companies with equipment for the next generation of high-speed networks — 5G.

The government cited national security concerns.