Australian officials Wednesday defended a decision to bar Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from bidding on national broadband network contracts.
China’s biggest private company was sidelined over concerns it could engage in hacking into sensitive networks at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party.
Huawei has also been cut out of tenders in the United States over fears it could rig equipment to steal national secrets.
“It’s not unusual for countries – and China cannot be exempt from these considerations – to take national security concerns into account when it looks at certain types of foreign investment,” Foreign Minister Bob Carr said.
For the past six years Australia has been the biggest recipient of Chinese foreign investment, most of the money going into buying up mining projects and agricultural land.
With over a quarter of Australia’s exports going to China, officials kept the ban on Huawei quiet and only commented when last year’s decision was leaked to the media.
Three years ago Treasurer Wayne Swan blocked a Chinese takeover of a mine because it was within the boundary of a weapons-testing area.
Speaking on Wednesday, he hoped the ban on Huawei would not impair the trading and investment relationship. “I don’t accept the characterization of it damaging our relationship,” he said.