An American company is to build a series of undersea cables linking Australia to China after the Aussie government put its foot down and kicked Huawei off the contract.
Building on our reports from last year that Australia had blocked Huawei from building a 4,000km cable between Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, US company TE Subcom has reportedly won the deal to build the link.
"All options for meshing the Pacific Islands are good for the development of the economies of these countries," Keir Preedy, chief executive of the Solomon Island Submarine Cable Company, told Reuters. The company is developing the Solomons' new cable.
In addition to the Aus-PNG-Solomons route previously announced, TE Subcom will build a cable spur to Hong Kong – Chinese territory.
"It is due for completion in 2022 and also includes a possible trans-Pacific branch to Los Angeles," the newswire stated.
As we reported last year, the Australian government is spending $100m from its foreign aid budget to build the cable, purely as a measure to keep Huawei technology off the network. Australia is the US' closest ally in the Pacific and has tightly aligned itself with American calls to block Huawei technology from its digital communications networks.
Sustained pressure from both Australia and America appears to have been the thing that swayed the PNG government.
"The whole idea is to give alternatives... It's not to say 'don't do business with China'. China offers are on the table – it's up to us to be competitive," James Carouso, American charge d'affaires to Australia, said with a straight face last year.
The often-cited justification by western countries for banning Huawei is that the Chinese company's employees can be legally compelled to help Chinese state spies carry out their nefarious doings. This conveniently ignores the fact that all of the western "Five Eyes" nations have identical laws, such as Britain's Snoopers' Charter.
A more realistic reason emerged recently when GCHQ tentacle the National Cyber Security Centre revealed the truly dire state of Huawei's software development processes. While no western country has, so far, revealed any evidence of a deliberate backdoor being planted in Huawei equipment, it appears that the sloppiness of firmware in Huawei network gear is a large security threat on its own. ®