It is with some concern I write following the article “Huawei linked to major data breach” (July 12) referring to an Australia Security Policy Institute (ASPI) claim that Huawei was part of an illegal operation in the African Union HQ several years ago. The ASPI representative fails to point out that Huawei was never linked to the reported activity and also fails to report the whole incident was dropped and not followed through by any relevant authority. The concern is why is ASPI doing this – commenting on unsubstantiated overseas newspaper articles to attack a private commercial company?
As the Head of Defence Education and Training in the late 1990s, I was involved in the early discussions setting up ASPI as a high-level strategic policy institute. In the early years the directors and analysts established credibility and presented reasoned and balanced debate. ASPI continues to provide that in some areas such as Defence and Cyber Security, but coverage of US and China relations and the impact on Australia is shallow and biased. It has sunk to a level where it rails against a private company and fails to provide Australian decision makers arguments on how to balance the security relationship with the United States and a growing and reliant trading relationship with China.
Several years ago I had a meeting with the Director of ASPI to hear more on their analysis of China and also to present how Huawei as a private company sought to be a global corporation coming out of China. The meeting was brief when I was informed “You’re (Huawei) Chinese and are therefore guilty”. This simplism appears to be affecting the ability of the organisation to provide rational debate and considered guidance to government and others at such a crucial time for Australia’s strategic outlook.
To avoid criticism of conflict of interest, I was a Rear Admiral Head of Defence Education and Training from 1997 to 1999 and have been independent Chairman of Huawei Technologies Australia since 2011.
The letter originally appeared in The Australian Financial Review.