Australia bans China’s Huawei from 5G mobile network build over security fears

Huawei’s Australian arm, which strenuously denies it is controlled by Beijing, said on Twitter on Thursday that the action was an ‘extremely disappointing result for consumers.’ (Reuters)
Updated 23 August 2018
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Australia bans China’s Huawei from 5G mobile network build over security fears

  • The move, following advice from security agencies, signals a hardening of Australia’s stance toward its biggest trading partner as relations have soured
  • ‘That’s what you get when you have the aligned strategy of a Chinese company with the Chinese government’

SYDNEY: Australia’s government has banned major Chinese telecoms firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from supplying equipment for the country’s planned 5G mobile network, citing risks of foreign interference and hacking.
The move, following advice from security agencies, signals a hardening of Australia’s stance toward its biggest trading partner as relations have soured over Canberra’s allegations of Chinese meddling in Australian politics.
It also brings Australia in line with the United States, which has restricted Huawei and compatriot ZTE Corp. from its lucrative market for similar reasons.
The government said in an emailed statement on Thursday that national security regulations typically applied to telecom carriers would now be extended to equipment suppliers.
Firms “who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government” would leave the nation’s network vulnerable to unauthorized access or interference, and presented a security risk, the statement said.
It did not identify the Chinese firm specifically, but a government official who declined to be named said the order was aimed at Huawei and precluded its involvement in the network.
Huawei’s Australian arm, which strenuously denies it is controlled by Beijing, said on Twitter on Thursday that the action was an “extremely disappointing result for consumers.”
Chinese law requires organizations and citizens to support, assist and cooperate with intelligence work, which analysts say can make Huawei’s equipment a conduit for espionage.
“That’s what you get when you have the aligned strategy of a Chinese company with the Chinese government,” said John Watters, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer of cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc.
“(Australia) basically made a decision to spend more money to have more control over their national communication system, because they’re up against a competitor that will sacrifice near-term margin for long-term intelligence advantage,” he said.
Australia had previously banned Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecommunications network gear, from providing equipment for its fiber-optic network and moved to block it from laying submarine cables in the Pacific.
But Huawei’s exclusion from the mobile network comes at a time of particularly strained relations between Australia and China, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had two weeks ago sought to reset with a conciliatory speech.
“It is ... out of step with this attempt to reset the relationship,” said James Leibold, Associate Professor of Politics and Asian Studies at La Trobe University.
“They’re not going to forget Turnbull’s earlier strident language anytime soon,” he said.
Turnbull’s tenure as prime minister appeared doomed on Thursday as his ruling party struggled with an internecine leadership battle which saw ministers desert Turnbull and call for a leadership vote.


Palestinians in financial crisis after Israel, US moves

Updated 22 March 2019
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Palestinians in financial crisis after Israel, US moves

  • A Ramallah-based economics professor said the Palestinian economy more generally, remain totally controlled by and reliant on Israel
  • Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Authority faces a suffocating financial crisis after deep US aid cuts and an Israeli move to withhold tax transfers, sparking fears for the stability of the West Bank.
The authority, headed by President Mahmud Abbas, announced a package of emergency measures on March 10, including halving the salaries of many civil servants.
The United States has cut more than $500 million in Palestinian aid in the last year, though only a fraction of that went directly to the PA.
The PA has decided to refuse what little US aid remains on offer for fear of civil suits under new legislation passed by Congress.
Israel has also announced it intends to deduct around $10 million a month in taxes it collects for the PA in a dispute over payments to the families of prisoners in Israeli jails.
In response, Abbas has refused to receive any funds at all, labelling the Israeli reductions theft.
That will leave his government with a monthly shortfall of around $190 million for the length of the crisis.
The money makes up more than 50 percent of the PA’s monthly revenues, with other funds coming from local taxes and foreign aid.

While the impact of the cuts is still being assessed, analysts fear it could affect the stability of the occupied West Bank.
“If the economic situation remains so difficult and the PA is unable to pay salaries and provide services, in addition to continuing (Israeli) settlement expansion it will lead to an explosion,” political analyst Jihad Harb said.
Abbas cut off relations with the US administration after President Donald Trump declared the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel’s capital in December 2017.
The right-wing Israeli government, strongly backed by the US, has since sought to squeeze Abbas.
After a deadly anti-Israeli attack last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would withhold $138 million (123 million euros) in Palestinian revenues over the course of a year.
Israel collects around $190 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through its ports, and then transfers the money to the PA.
Israel said the amount it intended to withhold was equal to what is paid by the PA to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis last year.
Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes of the fight against Israeli occupation.
Israel says the payments encourage further violence.
Abbas recently accused Netanyahu’s government of causing a “crippling economic crisis in the Palestinian Authority.”
The PA also said in January it would refuse all further US government aid for fear of lawsuits under new US legislation targeting alleged support for “terrorism.”

Finance Minister Shukri Bishara announced earlier this month he had been forced to “adopt an emergency budget that includes restricted austerity measures.”
Government employees paid over 2,000 shekels ($555) will receive only half their salaries until further notice.
Prisoner payments would continue in full, Bishara added.
Nasser Abdel Karim, a Ramallah-based economics professor, told AFP the PA, and the Palestinian economy more generally, remain totally controlled by and reliant on Israel.
The PA undertook similar financial measures in 2012 when Israel withheld taxes over Palestinian efforts to gain international recognition at the United Nations.
Abdel Karim said such crises are “repeated and disappear according to the development of the relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Israel or the countries that support (the PA).”
Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including now annexed east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and Abbas’s government has only limited autonomy in West Bank towns and cities.
“The problem is the lack of cash,” economic journalist Jafar Sadaqa told AFP.
He said that while the PA had faced financial crises before, “this time is different because it comes as a cumulative result of political decisions taken by the United States.”
Abbas appointed longtime ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister on March 10 to head a new government to oversee the crisis.
Abdel Karim believes the crisis could worsen after an Israeli general election next month “if a more right-wing Israeli government wins.”
Netanyahu’s outgoing government is already regarded as the most right-wing in Israel’s history but on April 9 parties even further to the right have a realistic chance of winning seats in parliament for the first time.
Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014, when a drive for a deal by the administration of President Barack Obama collapsed in the face of persistent Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.