The shadow of People’s Liberation Army over Chinese telecom vendor Huawei Technologies refuses to pass away. After UK, USA and India this time the company is on rough weather down under in Australia.
Australian employees of the company have alleged that they have observed the company increasing presence of technicians with links to the People’s Liberation Army. Such employees based out of Huawei’s Sydney and Melbourne offices have approached the ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) expressing their concerns.
Weekend Australian reports that the issues raised before the ASIO include:
Huawei employs Chinese nationals in Australia who have direct links with the PLA and with the Chinese government;
Senior Huawei officials are summoned to frequent meetings with Chinese government officials at Chinese embassies and consulates in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne
Huawei has recently sacked several dozen of its Australian-born workforce, replacing them with Chinese nationals brought in from China
Huawei employs a security controller whose full-time job is to monitor the emails and other communications of the company.
There are 100 employees in Huawei Melbourne centre and another 20 at the Sydney office.
Huawei has refuted these allegations outrightly. In a statement the company spokesperson said,” "Our links to the government are no more than any links General Electric might have to the US government due to the fact that some members of its management team are military veterans and they sell products to the US military."
The company maintains that talks with ASIO were routine in nature. Supporting this stand was spokesperson for Attorney-General Robert McClelland who said to the Weekend Australian, “ASIO has frequent contact with the telecommunications industry in Australia. In that context, ASIO contact with Huawei Telecommunications is unsurprising.”
A certain section of the industry feels that the pitch off late linking Huawei to the Chinese Army may be a ploy by incumbent vendors who feel threatened by Huawei’s phenomenal growth in such a short period of time. Whatever the case maybe, for Huawei, which is privately held company such conflicts indeed turn up as a dampener.