China cries foul over move to block Huawei

The Australian - - THE NATION - GLENDA KORPORAAL CHINA CORRESPONDENT

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.

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