China cries foul over move to block Huawei
A leading Chinese academic has accused Canberra of violating the Law of the Sea treaty when it moved to block Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from building an undersea cable from the Solomon Islands to Australia.
“Australia acted in violation of the Law of the Sea when it vetoed an undersea cable between the Solomon Islands and Sydney,” Zha Daojiong, professor of international political economy at the School of International Studies at Peking University told a conference in Beijing yesterday.
He said the Law of the Sea treaty guaranteed countries the right to lay undersea cable and that Australia’s move to block Huawei could leave it open to legal action. “Just because there was going to be a landing spot in Sydney does not give Australia the right to block it because the undersea cables are all connected globally,” he said.
Concerned that Huawei was funding the cable, the Turnbull government stepped in earlier this year to agree to provide the $137 million needed for the work to be done by Australia-based telecommunications company Vocus.
Professor Zha was also critical of the move by the federal government to ban Huawei from participating in providing equipment for the next-generation, highspeed 5G telecommunications network.
Speaking to The Australian on the sidelines of the conference, Professor Zha said that the federal government’s decision to ban Huawei was in part fallout from the US trade war with China.
He said Australia “was ordered not to take any Huawei equipment”.
Professor Zha said Australia needed to realise that while it was attuned to its relationship with China, Australia did not rank as highly in the Chinese thinking.
“There is an asymmetry in the perspectives,” he told the conference.