Australia will stand firm on Huawei ban if US retreats: Foreign Minister

Senator Payne said she would be happy to share with her British counterpart the intelligence that had persuaded Labor and the Coalition in Australia to support a ban.

«It’s a decision we made in the context of protecting Australia’s national security from using the strong advice of intelligence agencies on that matter,» she said.


«The decision of other countries is a sovereign one for them but I am always happy to share with the appropriate counterparts that sort of information that’s appropriate.»

Australia has banned Huawei from building its National Broadband Network and the US has been pressuring the other countries in the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network to follow suit, insisting Huawei can act as a conduit to Beijing, something the company denies.

This has been undermined in recent days, however, with Mr Trump openly musing about potentially softening the US position by potentially involving the company’s status in US-China trade talks before his meeting with China’s Vice Premier Lie He in the Oval Office last week.

«We want everybody to compete… we’ll be talking about it, we may or may not include that in this deal,» he said.


Mr Trump also raised the possibility that charges against Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei could be also be dropped as part of the negotiations.

«We’re going to be discussing all of that during the course of the next couple of weeks. And we’ll be talking to the US attorneys. We’ll be talking to the Attorney-General. But we’ll be making that decision. Right now it’s not something that we’re discussing,» he said.

Ren Zhengfei claims the charges against his daughter are politically motivated and designed to give the US greater leverage going into the trade negotiations.

If the US were to wind back its position on Huawei, that would leave Australia stranded in enforcing a ban.

Senator Payne said that Australia’s position would not change, even if it were left isolated in its position on Huawei.

«That’s a hypothetical, but I have no reason to think that Australia would be changing our position,» she said.

Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in London.

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