Australian intel: Huawei gave network keys to the Chinese government

Consumers around the world may know Huawei as a maker of Android phones — some may prefer its more affordable Honor brand. But in its primary business as a telecommunications industry vendor, its reputation is being trashed by investigations of sanction breaches and claims that the company may be falliable to become a pawn of Beijing.

It seems that new evidence of the latter has surfaced in Australia.

Politicians have been briefed on intelligence that may further damage Huawei’s chances at its networking business. The Australian reports the documents lay out an incident within the past two years where Chinese spies pressured Huawei staff to give passwords to gain privileged access to a foreign network. The network was not in Australia nor Australian-owned. It is not known if the operation was successful.

The revelation comes as the Australian Signal Directorate, the cybersecurity branch of the government, affirmed publicly this week that it had concerns about the security of the Chinese telecommunications giant. Huawei was officially banned in August from bidding on any contracts for deploying 5G in the country.

From the outset, Huawei has denied any surreptitious activity and continues to in its latest statement:

Huawei categorically denies it has ever provided, or been asked to provide, customer information for any government or organisation.

[The company has] an unblemished record of cyber security.

The multilateral relationship between the two countries has been strained to say the least. Australia has also tried to counteract political bribes from Chinese sources with a new foreign interference law. China has accused Australia of “anti-Chinese thinking” and encourages Canberra to “rethink the decision” to ban Huawei from 5G jobs.

Remedial talks between Austrlian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to occur during the APEC Economic Leaders Week this month.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.