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Huawei coming in from the cold in Oz?

Government figures fetch the kid gloves

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A couple of years into its charm offensive, a change of government seems to be thawing the chill that left Chinese vendor Huawei out in the cold in Australia.

Huawei had been excluded from bidding for projects like Australia's National Broadband Network on national security grounds. Although there was little official confirmation of either the existence or reasons for the ban, it was widely accepted that one or more security agencies feared the Chinese kit would contain Beijing backdoors.

The vendor repeatedly denied the suggestions, partly on the basis that someone would be bound to notice a backdoor, a discovery that would destroy the company.

However, it's an older initiative that seems to be paying off for the company: the appointment of a local board featuring politicians from both major Australian parties and headed by former foreign minister and Liberal Party figure Alexander Downer.

Long before Australia's federal election and change of government, Malcolm Turnbull had said the ban would be reviewed if he were communications minister, a position he reiterated to the Australian Financial Review early this week.

Now, trade minister Andrew Robb has weighed into the same debate, linking the ban to free trade agreement negotiations with Beijing and lavishing praise on the vendor.

“They are a well respected company within Australia and they have already made a big contribution to [the telco] sector,” the newspaper reports “And they do produce very good products, leading products.” ®

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