Xu Zhijun, Huawei's rotating CEO, introduces the company's 5G Pre-commercial System at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen last year. Photo: AFP
Xu Zhijun, Huawei's rotating CEO, introduces the company's 5G Pre-commercial system at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen. Photo: AFP

China’s efforts to export 5G (fifth-generation wireless) technology across the globe took a hit on Wednesday, and Beijing made it clear it was not happy about it.

After a national-security review of potential risks posed by allowing Chinese telecom giant Huawei to provide equipment for the country’s 5G network, Australia has decided to close the door to the company.

The move signals that Australia is aligned with the United States on the issue, sharing the view that China’s telecommunications firms’ government links pose a threat to national security.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang decried the decision, expressing “grave concern” for what he described as discrimination.

“Australia should not be using every kind of excuse to create barriers and carry out discriminatory practices,” Lu said. “We urge Australia to abandon ideological prejudices, and provide a fair competitive environment for Chinese companies operating in the country,” he added, according to a transcript released on the ministry’s website.

Despite being given the cold shoulder by the United States, and now Australia, Huawei is by many accounts leading the 5G race. The company said in February that it had signed 5G trial agreements with 45 telecom operators worldwide, according to Reuters. That is more than have been announced by Nokia or Ericsson, the closest competitors.

One industry-insider estimate, cited by Reuters, expects Huawei eventually to control as much as 40% of 5G-essential patents.

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