Huawei executive urges Australia to avoid US lead

Associated Press Modified: October 24, 2012 at 2:46 am •  Published: October 24, 2012

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The head of the Australian subsidiary of Huawei Technologies Ltd. has urged Australia not to be swayed by report from the U.S. Congress that referred to the Chinese telecommunications giant as a potential security risk.

Huawei Australia Chairman John Lord told the National Press Club on Wednesday that the debate about cybersecurity in Australia should not "become distorted the way it has in the U.S."

Lord was scathing of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee report earlier this month that said American companies should avoid sourcing network equipment from Huawei and fellow Chinese technology provider ZTE Corp. because both companies posed a national security threat to the United States.

"The U.S. Committee report must be called for what it is: protectionism, not security," Lord said in a speech.

"The fiery rhetoric of the U.S. Committee's report may make good headline fodder in an election year, but it should really be seen as a missed opportunity" to realistically address cyber threats, he added.

Lord said for Australia to protect its critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, all companies that provide equipment from overseas should be subject to the same rigorous security assessment procedures.

"If we are to find real solutions to real cybersecurity problems, we cannot allow the discussion to be muddied by issues like the ongoing trade conflict between the U.S. and China," he said.

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