RAW DATA: Huawei exec interviewed on Sky News
Huawei Australia director of corporate and public affairs Jeremy Mitchell spoke to Sky News after the story broke on the weekend that the Chinese telecommunications company has been "banned" from tendering for the National Broadband Network.l
A transcript of the interview:
Host: The concern is over security, and the company’s involvement in setting up our NBN. What’s your understanding of why that is?
JM: Can I first of all say we are the global leader in building NBNs. Of the 9 NBN’s being built around the world we are delivering 8 of them, and that also includes the United Kingdom where for the last 6 years we have been the sole supplier of the technology we would like to put in the Australian NBN. So we are clearly the world leader, we have the best technology, so we do believe we can play a role in the Australian NBN.
This is a very sensitive area for the Government and for all Governments around the world. We understand that, we are the number 2 supplier of telecommunications technology in the world, so we work on a daily basis with governments, our customers, 45 of the top 50 telecom operators in the world are our partners so we understand that this is a very sensitive area for governments all around the world. What we say is: Governments around the world don’t have the answers by themselves, we… don’t have the answers by ourselves, we need to work together. This is one of the biggest threats governments are facing as more and more important information comes on these networks, and we’ve got to work together.
Host: The former Australian Federal Police top cyber agent is one of those from the AFP who supports this ban on your company. How big a deal is this for Huawei?
JM: I’ll correct that, what he supports is that cyber security is vitally important and we agree with him on that, and let me say that no-one is suggesting that Huawei is a risk in itself. We are a global leader, as I said we partner with 45 of the top 50 telcos in the world. You don’t get to that level of business if they don’t trust you, if they don’t trust your workers and your equipment.
Host: It’s the fact that it’s a Chinese company though which is the concern.
JM: This is a whole new area for us [Australia] as we look at the Asian Century, we’re not used to privately owned Chinese companies, we’re not used to companies coming from China that are leading in technology and also global – 70% of our work is outside of China. This is new territory, so as I said, we see this as a setback, we’re obviously disappointed but through looking at what we’ve done overseas, looking at what we’ve done in the United Kingdom, that we can put in place measures that help the Australian Government consider us as a partner in the NBN.
Host: [There are] suggestions it’s a big enough deal that it’s going to cause political ructions between Australia and China?
JM: I think we are mature enough for that and that’s up to the Australian Government and China to work out. We, as I said, are a private company and we would hope that we can look at this new era, and China is now leading in innovation. Half of our workforce is in R&D so we have a lot to offer… We know that the bar is set a little bit higher for us because of our Chinese origin, so we’re happy to work as we have done in the United Kingdom, we can put in place things like offering governments source code, as we have, auditing all our equipment if they wish, ensuring that only Australian citizens who are security cleared work on that project – those are the sort of things we’re happy to do. We want to be open and transparent, but it’s a new era. It’s a new era for everyone and we’re confident that we can get over this hurdle.
Host: Just very briefly Jeremy what sort of money are we talking about? What’s it worth to your company?
JM: It depends on how much of the pie you get, but to be honest what we’re interested in – we’ve got the best technology, we’re a global leader in it, we’ve been doing the exact same technology in the UK for the last 6 years so I think we can offer a very good technology and at a cheaper rate so it would benefit the Australian people if we were involved.