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Australia tells Huawei to hit the highway

Australia has banned Chinese handset and network equipment maker Huawei from supplying equipment for a 5G mobile network.

“The move, following advice from security agencies, signals a hardening of Australia’s stance toward its biggest trading partner as relations have soured over Canberra’s allegations of Chinese meddling in Australian politics,” reports Reuters. It also brings Australia in line with the United States, which has restricted Huawei and compatriot ZTE from its lucrative market for similar reasons.

The Australian government statement was clear about the perceived threat: Australian ABC reports: “The Government said it would be interpreting rules announced last year as disqualifying any company that was ‘likely subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law.’”

Huawei Australia tweeted: “We have been informed by the government that Huawei and ZTE have been banned from providing 5G technology to Australia. This is a extremely disappointing result for consumers.” Reuters also notes that Huawei’s Australian arm “strenuously denies it is controlled by Beijing.”Huawei may pursue legal action against the ban, according to a statement reported by Sina (in Chinese).

 The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson reacted by saying Australia “should know better than citing all sorts of excuses to erect artificial hurdles and enforce discriminatory measures,” and that China urges the Australian government “to abandon ideological bias and level the playing field for Chinese enterprises’ operations in Australia.”

—Jeremy Goldkorn

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