Chinese telecoms equipment firm Huawei Technologies pledged on Wednesday
to become more transparent, proposing to set up a cyber-security centre
in Australia to help address concerns that threaten to shut it out of
key global markets.
Huawei, the world's second-biggest telecoms
equipment maker, has been barred from a $38 billion project in Australia
and is also under siege by U.S. lawmakers who suspect it has close ties
to Beijing and that its equipment could be used for espionage.
has done a very poor job of communicating about ourselves and we must
take full responsibility for that," the chairman of its Australian
business, John Lord, told reporters on Wednesday in what was a rare
opportunity for international media to quiz a senior Huawei figure on
the security concerns.
"Huawei has a duty to set the record
straight, to dispel the myths and the misinformation," the retired
admiral told the National Press Club in Canberra, denying there were any
grounds for governments to fear Huawei.
Lord said Huawei proposed
to set up a centre in Australia to give security-cleared officials
complete access to its software source code and equipment similar to a
centre it established in Britain two years ago.
Huawei, the sole
supplier of equipment for Britain's national broadband network, set up
the UK centre with the cooperation of the government, enabling Huawei's
hardware and software to be tested to ensure against cyber security
Huawei has also offered to undergo similar scrutiny in
the United States, along with another Chinese telecoms equipment firm,
ZTE Corp, the world's fifth largest telecom equipment maker.
a U.S. congressional intelligence committee has decided any such
efforts would likely fall short of addressing security concerns, given
the scale of the U.S. telecoms market, and it called for Huawei and ZTE
to be locked out of the market.
The committee's report followed
the Australian government's announcement this year that it had barred
Huawei from participating in its $38 billion high-speed broadband
network. Both those actions have in turn prompted Canada and Britain to
look deeper into similar issues.
Suspicions of Huawei are partly
tied to its founder, Ren Zhengfei, a former People's Liberation Army
officer. Huawei, an employee-owned and unlisted company, denies any
links with the Chinese military and says it is a purely commercial
It is the second-biggest maker of routers, switches
and telecom equipment by revenue after Sweden's Ericsson, but there is
little public information about its operations.
Huawei looks for local faces
one of many influential figures hired by Huawei in Western markets to
reassure foreign governments, said the company needed to do a better job
to counter misperceptions.
"We sincerely hope that in Australia,
we do not allow sober debate on cyber security to become distorted the
way it has in the U.S.," Lord said.
Asked why Huawei did not bring
forward its stated plans for a stock exchange listing in five to 10
years to appease concerns about transparency, Lord said the firm's focus
was instead localising the company's boards and activities.
listing be the panacea that would solve all of this openness? At the
moment the advice to us from experts outside of Huawei is not
necessarily so," he said.
Huawei's board in Australia, created
last year, was the company's first local board with non-executive
directors and includes former foreign minister Alexander Downer and
former premier of Victoria state John Brumby.
"We're developing a
model and once that model is mature, that model will be exported to
other regions and countries around the world, so that's the first step
of us moving out," Lord said.
Huawei CEO Ren, who founded the
company 25 years ago after he was laid off by the Chinese army, said
during a visit to Australia in August that the company would begin
reinvesting local profits back into the Australian market.
Huawei started in Australia in 2004 and has expanded its business across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
has become a significant market force in the region, supplying
equipment to Optus and Vodafone and conducting trials with Telstra Corp
Huawei Marine Networks, a joint venture between Huawei and
Britain's Global Marine Systems, is involved in building two
telecommunications submarine cables between Australia and New Zealand
and between Australia and Singapore.
© Thomson Reuters 2012