Former PM Turnbull defends decision to ban Huawei from Australia’s 5G

In an interview at BBC's Radio 4 World at One, the former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the real question around choosing or not to use Huawei's 5G was ”whether this is a loaded gun and if you want to have that risk“.

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In an interview at BBC’s Radio 4 World at One, the former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the real question around choosing or not to use Huawei’s 5G was “whether this is a loaded gun and if you want to have that risk”.

The former PM was being asked about the decision the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is yet to make on who will build the UK’s 5G.

Turnbull explained that he is not saying that Huawei is doing anything wrong or has any bad intentions but a “threat is the combination of capability and intent. Intent can change in a heartbeat.”

He also said that the UK would of course be vulnerable if it chose to go ahead and use the Chinese technology company Huawei to develop the country’s 5G communication network. 

He reinforced that under the Chinese law, their telcos are obliged to assist their intelligent services  from a national security point of view. “Do you want to give China the capability to materially interfere with what will become one of the most fundamental technological platforms of your modern economy? Do you want to give that capability to do that?” Turnbull asked.

“The real issue is network availability. If you have another party who may not always have your best interest at heart choosing to shut down or remove access to a part of your economy, a part of your network, that is a very fundamental risk.”

Turnbull reiterated that Australia’s decision to bar Huawei was because it concluded there was no satisfactory mitigation of the risk.

In Australia, Huawei’s director of corporate affairs, Jeremy Mitchell said it was disappointing the former PM continues to rely on what he called factually incorrect information when commenting on his government’s decision to exclude Huawei from delivering 5G in Australia.

“Following the 5G ban Turnbull told Australians that the ban was imposed because 5G technology required a different network architecture to 4G networks but real-world 5G deployments have now shown that to be completely false,” Mitchell said.

He said that in over 15 years in Australia it has never had any cyber security issues. “During our engagement with the Turnbull government we made it absolutely clear we would take whatever measures were necessary to mitigate any perceived risks identified. Indeed, our founder Ren Zhengfei has made it quite clear that he would rather shut down the entire company than take any actions from any government that would harm the interests of our customers. Huawei has worked closely with security agencies around the world to help find solutions on risk mitigation on 5G and are always willing to do so with Australian security agencies.”

Turnbull also criticised the Five Eyes nations—the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand—for allowing the most powerful telecommunications companies to be two Chinese companies and two Scandinavian companies.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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