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No legal case against Australia for now, says Huawei

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Chinese telecoms giant Huawei said Friday it had no immediate plans to mount a legal challenge over Australia’s decision to bar the company’s equipment from the 5G network Down Under.

A day after taking Donald Trump’s administration to court for banning US federal agencies from buying Huawei products, the firm said no such move was envisaged in Australia.

“Whilst we have our differences with the federal government, we would still rather work cooperatively,” a company spokesman told AFP.

“A legal challenge is not a priority at this moment.”

Australia in August announced guidelines on contracts to build fifth generation mobile networks in the country which effectively barred Huawei and another Chinese giant, ZTE, from the project.

Canberra cited intelligence agency warnings against the “involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government”.

As Huawei has grown, fears have emerged that the company could effectively provide the Chinese state with a switch to cut critical infrastructure during a crisis.

While Huawei insists it is a private company, its founder Ren Zhengfei is a 74-year-old former People’s Liberation Army engineer.

And while there are no formal ties with the state, in practice large Chinese firms and the ruling Communist Party are intricately interlinked.

In 2015, Beijing passed a law obliging its corporations to aid the government on matters of national security.

That, coupled with Beijing’s more muscular foreign and security policy overseas, has raised concerns among members of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing collective.

All five members — Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States — have taken at least some steps toward limiting Huawei’s role in sensitive infrastructure.

But at the same time, Huawei has become enmeshed in local economies.

The company says its business in Australia alone is worth Aus dollars 650 million and has 700 employees, and its equipment is used directly or indirectly by half the population.

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