By Michael Sainsbury
April 08, 2010
AUSTRALIA is facing another test in its relationship with China, as the
country's largest technology group, Huawei Technologies, makes a bid for
a piece of the $43 billion Australian National Broadband Network.
The test for the communications giant, which is also reported to be
pursuing part of the Motorola mobile network in the US, is whether it
can overcome the security taint of its links with the People's
Liberation Army. Huawei's chief executive officer, the reclusive Ren
Zhengfei, is a former PLA officer.
Australia's rosy economic relationship with China, which resulted in
$83bn in two-way trade in 2008-09, descended last year into acrimony
that culminated in the jailing of Australian mining executive at Rio
Tinto Stern Hu and his three colleagues last week.
Nevertheless, and despite the spectacular collapse of the $19bn deal for
state-owned Chinalco to buy more of miner Rio Tinto, investment
continues to pour in. China tipped $10.7bn into our companies last year,
with billions more promised.
But if the overriding issue last year was how much Chinese investment
should be allowed in Australia, the biggest bogey now is cyber security.
Fears about security are mounting across the world following Google's
withdrawal from China after a huge cyber-attack in December.
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