Huawei Australia chief plans on bidding on other NBN contracts

SYDNEY, Reuters

Chinese telecom equipment firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Australia Chairman John Lord said on Sunday that there are still parts of Australia’s US$38 billion national broadband network (NBN) the company wants to bid for despite a government ban. Australia has blocked Huawei from tendering for contracts in Australia’s US$38 billion high-speed NBN due to undefined security concerns.

But Lord said in a television interview that he still believes portions of Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure should be open to research and technology from outside sources and the company will push ahead for that business. “Our argument will always be that there is core parts of the national infrastructure that companies like us would not expect to be in,” Lord said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We would still argue that there are parts of the NBN that are perhaps suitable.” The ban has prompted comment from Australia’s largest trading partner, China. After news of Huawei’s ban broke last week, China’s Foreign Ministry called on the Australian government to provide fair market access for Chinese companies. Huawei has made a submission to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s strategy paper on “Australia in the Asian Century” that argues for bringing technologies into Australia from some “not so traditional sources,” Lord told the ABC.

Lord said he hoped that the decision to exclude Huawei from tendering for Australia’s NBN was based on national interest and not based on the fact that it was Huawei or a Chinese company.

Huawei started its Australian operations in 2004 and has expanded its business across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. The company was founded by its CEO Ren Zhengfei, a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army in China, a fact that h as fueled the claim that it has a cozy relationship with the Chinese government — a claim denied by the company. The Shenzhen-based firm, like cross-town rival ZTE Corp., has been struggling to expand in the United States, which blocked its telecom equipment deals due to national security concerns and allegations it violated sanctions by supplying Iran with censorship equipment.