China calls for equal treatment in Australia

Updated: 2012-03-29 07:24

By Hu Yinan in New Delhi and Wang Chenyan in Beijing (China Daily)

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The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged the Australian government "to remove blinkers" toward investors from China and stop thwarting the ordinary business plans of Chinese enterprises.

Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that the products and services of Chinese enterprises are fairly estimated in the Australian market and among Australian consumers and therefore China hopes relevant government divisions in Australia could work to provide Chinese investors equal opportunities.

"Investment cooperation between China and Australia for years has brought Chinese enterprises opportunities of 'going global'. It has also served as a strong engine for the economic and social development of Australia as well as the improvement of its people's life," Hong said.

He emphasized that both sides should keep making joint efforts to enhance win-win cooperation.

A senior executive of global telecom giant Huawei on Wednesday called the firm "part of the solution, not the problem", days after it was blocked from bidding on a multibillion communications project in Australia on cyber security concerns.

"It is a legitimate concern for business communities, governments and individuals to address this security issue (and) to jointly develop capacities and solutions. (But) in that regard, we're part of the solution," Yao Weimin, vice-president of Huawei Global, told a news briefing in New Delhi.

Huawei, the world's second-largest telecom company after China Mobile, earlier said it was willing to make concessions to win contracts from the $38 billion National Broadband Network, which aims to connect 93 percent of Aussie homes and workplaces with optical fiber and ultra-fast broadband by 2020.

Australia has banned the firm from bidding, citing concerns about cyber attacks that can be traced to China.

Jeremy Mitchell, director for corporate affairs at Huawei (Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific), has said it is important not to "paint China with one brush". "Yes, we are Chinese in origin, but we are privately owned, we are a global company," he said.

Meanwhile, Yao, in India, refrained from directly commenting on the issue, only saying that Huawei serves 90 percent of the world's top 50 telecom operators and that "the fact speaks for itself".

Pang Zhongying, an international relations professor at Renmin University of China, said he thought the Australian government made "an unwise decision".

"Either it is for security concern or out of trade protection. The ban is unfavorable for the economic exchange between China and Australia," Pang told China Daily.

Pang said Australia has already imposed limitations on investments from China, especially in the field of natural resources.

"Such bounds and the current Huawei issue will force Chinese investors to shift their attention to partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Australia needs infrastructure improvements, and Chinese enterprises are very competitive due to their prices. So I think the overreaction of (Julia) Gillard's government will damage its own interest," Pang added.

Wen Weiping, an associate professor at the School of Software and Microelectronics at Peking University, said he understands the Australian government's decision to ban the Chinese equipment maker from bidding on its national broadband network project.

"The strength of Huawei as a leading global information and communications technology solutions provider is beyond all doubt. But I understand Australia's choice if we look at this case simply from the angle of technology.

"Naturally, a country will be sensitive to the possible exposure of official secrets since the national broadband network is an important part of a state's infrastructure," Wen said.

Huawei has been blocked from deals in the United States due to similar allegations.

Concerns have also been on the rise in India over allowing Chinese telecom companies into its market.

Huawei began operations in India in the late 1990s, and boasts some 2,500 Indian employees at its Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) office alone.

"We're working together and serving all the telecom players in the Indian market. There's a track record for Huawei's technology, solutions, services, and most importantly, our commitment to industry development, economic growth and society," Yao said.