China Files Complaint Vs. Australia At WTO For Huawei Ban

China vs. Australia
WTO (Photo: Reuters)

Australia stands by its decision to ban Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from bidding in its national 5G rollout and is confident the World Trade Organization (WTO) will rule in its favor.

China over the weekend filed an official complaint with the WTO alleging Australia's decision targeting Huawei is politically motivated and isn't the result of a fact-based decision-making process. Analysts said China's resorting to the WTO complaint mechanism is another effort to overturn Australia's decision taken in 2018.

China's complaint, however, doesn't mention Huawei by name but instead refers to Australia's "discriminatory market access prohibition on 5G equipment." A Chinese diplomat cited by Reuters said Australia's "country-specific and discriminatory restriction measures cannot address the concerns on cybersecurity, nor make anyone safe, but only disrupt the global industrial chain, and make the country itself isolated from the application of better technology."

China also said Australia hasn't published any official documents about the ban, which came into effect in August 2018. The Australian government confirmed that Huawei and ZTE Corporation have been banned from supplying equipment for its 5G networks.

In reply, Australian trade minister Simon Birmingham said Canberra "stands by its decision in relation to 5G, which was not targeted at any one country or telecommunications company."

Birmingham said Australia respects the WTO processes and is "confident in our compliance." He also said Australia will respond to China's questions about the ban in the usual way.

Australia's decision barred Huawei because it's "likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government." The ban, which didn't mention Huawei by name, was implemented also because of concerns about the "blurring of lines between commercial activity and China's strategic goals" and the threat of economic coercion, said former foreign minister Julie Bishop last month.

"Because of this perception of Chinese government intervention in commercial activities, the Australian intelligence and security community advised the Australian government to not include Chinese companies in the development of 5G mobile phone networks," she said.

Experts contend that the move by China to file an official complaint against Australia at the WTO is unlikely to succeed. Australia's ABC News said there is a low probability China could go after Australia for banning Huawei from 5G networks.

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