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Huawei Australia chief eyes bidding on other broadband contracts

SYDNEY, April 1 — Chinese telecom equipment company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Australia chairman John Lord said today there were still parts of Australia’s US$38 billion (RM116.3 billion) national broadband network (NBN) the company wanted to bid for despite a government ban.

Australia has blocked Huawei from tendering for contracts in Australia’s high-speed broadband network due to undefined security concerns.

John Lord (right) with former Victoria premier John Brumby on Huawei Australia board. Also on board is former foreign minister Alexander Downer. — Picture courtesy of brisbanetimes.com.auJohn Lord (right) with former Victoria premier John Brumby on Huawei Australia board. Also on board is former foreign minister Alexander Downer. — Picture courtesy of brisbanetimes.com.auBut Lord said in a television interview he still believed portions of Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure should be open to research and technology from outside sources, and the company would push ahead for that business.

“Our argument will always be that there is core parts of the national infrastructure that companies like us would not expect to be in,” Lord said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“We would still argue that there are parts of the NBN that are perhaps suitable.”

The ban has prompted comment from Australia’s largest trading partner, China. After news of Huawei’s ban broke last week, China’s Foreign Ministry called on the Australian government to provide fair market access for Chinese companies.

Huawei has made a submission to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s strategy paper on “Australia in the Asian Century” that argues for bringing technologies into Australia from some “not so traditional sources”, Lord told the ABC.

Lord said he hoped that the decision to exclude Huawei from tendering for Australia’s NBN was based on national interest and not based on the fact that it was Huawei or a Chinese company.

Huawei started its Australian operations in 2004 and has expanded its business across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The company was founded by its CEO Ren Zhengfei, a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army in China, a fact that has fuelled the claim that it has a cosy relationship with the Chinese government — a claim the company denies.

The Shenzhen-based company, like cross-town rival ZTE Corp , has been struggling to expand in the United States, which blocked its telecom equipment deals due to national security concerns and allegations it violated sanctions by supplying Iran with censorship equipment. — Reuters

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