Disappointed Huawei breaks its NBN silence

Huawei has broken its silence after the Coalition government decided to uphold a ban on the Chinese telco participating in the national broadband network, saying the company is "extremely disappointed".

Huawei has broken its silence after the Coalition government decided to uphold a ban on the Chinese telco participating in the national broadband network, saying the company is "extremely disappointed".

John Lord, the chairman of Huawei Australia and a former Royal Australian Navy admiral, told the company's staff to hold their heads up high and be "proud to be Huawei".

Mr Lord's letter to staff came after Prime Minister Tony Abbott effectively shut down speculation Canberra was going to relax the Labor government's ban on Huawei. Mr Abbott ruled out any softening of the Coalition's stance on the telco in a letter to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

"While much of this week's commentary has focused on cyber security," Mr Lord wrote, "I want to make it crystal clear that Huawei has never been presented with any evidence that our company or technology poses any kind of security risk."

The former fleet commander played down the importance of the NBN to Huawei's business operation: "Despite the NBN decision, last year was our most successful year to date and today Huawei's Australian business is bigger than ever."

Huawei Australia more than doubled its local revenue last year and earned $368 million, a 61 per cent increase from the previous year. It has secured major contracts, including construction of part of Optus' fast 4G network.

Mr Lord reiterated an offer to reveal its technology and source codes to be verified by Australian security agencies. The offer has so far been ignored by both the Coalition and Labor governments.

"That position still stands - we have nothing to hide, and we have complete confidence in the veracity of our equipment," he said.

"We have always understood that the bar is set higher for Huawei and because of that we are willing to go further than any other vendor to prove our security credentials."

He described Canberra's decision to ban Huawei as "the exception, not the rule".

He noted Huawei was building eight out of nine national broadband projects around the world, including Britain's.

"These countries have not embraced Huawei cautiously, they have embraced us with open arms."

Huawei established a cyber-security centre in Britain after it was awarded a large contract to supply equipment to the British equivalent of the national broadband network. It is staffed with security-cleared personnel, some of whom used to work for Britain's signals intelligence agency, GCHQ.

The decision to block Huawei in Australia has been met with concern from Chinese officials and business leaders.

One senior Chinese diplomat told Fairfax Media Australia placed a higher premium on the US alliance than the trading relationship with China and that US intelligence services might be behind the Coalition's new policy.

The decision to uphold Labor's ban on Huawei received extensive media coverage in China and stoked a nationalist backlash from citizens. Many have urged Beijing to retaliate with a ban on imports of Australian agricultural products.

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