SYDNEY • Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies has refuted Australian claims that it poses a security risk, calling the criticism "ill-informed" in an open letter yesterday that threatens to inflame already heightened Sino-Australian tensions.
Canberra is likely to ban Huawei from participating in a 5G mobile telecommunications roll-out in the nation as it fears the company is de facto controlled by China, and sensitive infrastructure will fall into the hands of Beijing, according to Australian media reports.
Huawei denies the allegations and, in a move that threatens to draw Australian politicians into a public spat that will further stain relations with China, dismissed Canberra's security concerns.
"Recent public commentary around China has referenced Huawei and its role in Australia and prompted some observations around security concerns," Huawei Australia chairman John Lord and board directors John Brumby and Lance Hockridge wrote in the unprecedented letter.
"Many of these comments are ill-informed and not based on facts."
Huawei, the world's largest maker of telecommunications network equipment and the No. 3 smartphone supplier, has already been virtually shut out from the giant US market because of national security concerns.
Huawei said in the letter that it operates in 170 countries, abiding by national laws and guidelines.
Citing 5G investments in Britain, Canada and New Zealand, Huawei said those governments had taken up its offer to evaluate the company's technology to make sure it abided by cyber security protocols.
Australia has longstanding concerns about Huawei. In 2012, it banned the company from supplying its massive National Broadband Network and, last month, Canberra committed millions of dollars to ensure Huawei did not build an Internet cable between Australia and the Solomon Islands.
A decision on 5G would come amid a low in Beijing-Canberra relations.
Canberra is preparing to pass laws designed to limit Beijing's influence in domestic affairs following criticism by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull late last year that Beijing was meddling in its affairs.
The Foreign Interference Bill could be passed by Australia's Parliament as early as this week.