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Australia’s electronic intelligence chief advocates ban on ‘high-risk’ Chinese companies in ‘5G’ rollout

Canberra / Beijing: The head of the Australian electronic intelligence agency has openly advocated the decision to exclude Chinese telecom firms from the rollout of Australia’s 5G mobile communications, the most advanced telecommunications technology. Mike Burgess, the Director General of the ‘Australian Signals Directorate’ (ASD) directly objected to the Chinese governmental interference claiming, the Australian defences of its sensitive and critical national infrastructure to be weak against the aggression by the Chinese companies. Due to the allegations levelled by the Australian officials, the tensions between China and Australia are likely to fester further.

Australia and China are known to be leading bilateral trade partners. Also, China has a significant share in Australia’s foreign investments. Nevertheless, for the last few years, a tone of discontent over the rising Chinese influence has emanated from Australia, and the government has also adopted an aggressive stance on the matter. The country has taken a resolute position concerning the issue of Chinese domination in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific regions in particular.

On the other hand, instances of China’s increasing interference in the Australian sectors of education, mining, property and agriculture, and also politics have reportedly surfaced with consistency. The Australian government, the intelligence department and various think tanks have published reports hitting out at China. Moreover, along with the political parties, even the citizens have begun to voice strong displeasure about China’s interference. Therefore, the Australian government is now seriously reassessing its relations with China and has begun attempts to rebuff China’s pressure.

For the last few years, the matter of the 5G technology is in the forefront in Australia, and the participation of the Chinese firms in it has been much debated. A few Australian politicians and groups have even tried to use their influence with the government to allow an entry for the Chinese firms. However, the government had to exclude Chinese companies because of the firm warnings from the electronic intelligence department. The issue has resurfaced with the Chinese companies which are believed to be making efforts to gain entry into the 5G rollout.

Electronic intelligence chief Mike Burgess has openly opposed their entry and stated that the inclusion of the Chinese companies could prove to be a threat to the national security. Before the warning by Burgess, an Australian think tank had accused the Chinese researchers and scientists of working in university research and other vital sectors by concealing their identity. Moreover, the think tank report had cited the Chinese, who are involved in the university research and also the researchers who visit as faculty in the universities, of having direct connections with the Chinese military.

Meanwhile, before Australia, even the United States has adopted an aggressive stance against Chinese companies. The US administration, citing national security, has banned the Chinese company, Fujian Jinhua and ordered US companies not to deal with it.


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