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Ken Hu says the discussion around 5G should be about the technology itself and not politics.

Huawei still keen for Aussie 5G work

Huawei deputy chair Ken Hu has argued that moves by western countries to stop the Chinese company participating in rollout of next generation telecommunications technology will reduce competitive tension in the sector and hold back innovation.

The company, based out of Shenzhen in China, has been battling controversy on multiple fronts in the past year, after the federal government banned the business from Australia’s 5G telecommunications network rollout.

In Canada, a senior executive was arrested for allegedly violating United States sanctions against Iran.

Closer to home, Huawei was picked for the rollout of the state government’s communications network for Metronet, with accusations that security agencies had reservations about the deal.

“We should bring (the discussion) to technology itself and away from politics,” Mr Hu said, speaking at the company‘s annual analyst conference in Shenzhen.

“If cybersecurity is politicised, this will be a big challenge.

“Such a challenge will be a challenge not just for one vendor, but for wider industry and trade relations.

“If (it) is politicised, it will move away from facts and towards feeling ... this approach will make technology fragmented.

“The fragmentation of technology will impede innovation, slowdown innovation and bring up costs.

“We hope (modern) technology is safer and will protect our privacy.”

Huawei executive director David Wang added that although Huawei had been banned from 5G rollout in Australia, it was still participating in the expansion of 4G connections.

Business News understands much of Optus’s network in Perth and regional WA relies on Huawei equipment, for example.

Huawei head of cybersecurity John Suffolk said he felt the business had been found guilty in Australia without proof.

“I can’t sit here and say it's grounded in forensic analysis because nothing like that has been presented to us,” Mr Suffolk said.

“We allow anyone to test to their heart's content, we certainly haven’t seen that coming from Australia.

“(Australian) equipment running the National Broadband Network now (is) made in China.”

But he acknowledged that other countries in the Five Eyes network, the nations with which Australia shares intelligence, had tested the products.

A March report by the United Kingdom’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre Oversight board found some concerns.

“As reported in 2018, HCSEC’s work has continued to identify concerning issues in Huawei’s approach to software development bringing significantly increased risk to UK operators, which requires ongoing management and mitigation,” the report said. 

“No material progress has been made on the issues raised in the previous 2018 report.

“The Oversight Board continues to be able to provide only limited assurance that the long-term security risks can be managed in the Huawei equipment currently deployed in the UK.

“The Oversight Board advises that it will be difficult to appropriately risk-manage future products in the context of UK deployments, until the underlying defects in Huawei’s software engineering and cyber security processes are remediated.

“At present, the Oversight Board has not yet seen anything to give it confidence in Huawei’s capacity to successfully complete the elements of its transformation program that it has proposed as a means of addressing these underlying defects. 

“The board will require sustained evidence of better software engineering and cyber security quality verified by HCSEC and NCSC.

“Overall, the Oversight Board can only provide limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks can be sufficiently mitigated long-term.”

Matt Mckenzie is attending the Huawei analyst conference as a guest of the company.

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