Australia's government has banned major Chinese telecoms firm Huawei Technologies Co Ltd from supplying equipment for the country's planned 5G mobile network, citing risks of foreign interference and hacking.
The move, following advice from security agencies, signals a hardening of Australia's stance toward its biggest trading partner as relations have soured over Canberra's allegations of Chinese meddling in Australian politics.
It also brings Australia in line with the United States, which has restricted Huawei and compatriot ZTE Corp from its lucrative market for similar reasons.
The government said in an emailed statement on Thursday that national security regulations typically applied to telecom carriers would now be extended to equipment suppliers.
Firms "who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government" would leave the nation's network vulnerable to unauthorised access or interference, and presented a security risk, the statement said.
It did not identify the Chinese firm specifically, but a government official who declined to be named said the order was aimed at Huawei and precluded its involvement in the network.
Huawei's Australian arm, which strenuously denies it is controlled by Beijing, said on Twitter today that the action was an "extremely disappointing result for consumers".
Chinese law requires organisations and citizens to support, assist and cooperate with intelligence work, which analysts say can make Huawei's equipment a conduit for espionage.
"That's what you get when you have the aligned strategy of a Chinese company with the Chinese government," said John Watters, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer of cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc.
"(Australia) basically made a decision to spend more money to have more control over their national communication system, because they're up against a competitor that will sacrifice near-term margin for long-term intelligence advantage," he said.
Australia had previously banned Huawei, the world's largest maker of telecommunications network gear, from providing equipment for its fibre-optic network and moved to block it from laying submarine cables in the Pacific.
But Huawei's exclusion from the mobile network comes at a time of particularly strained relations between Australia and China, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had two weeks ago sought to reset with a conciliatory speech.
"It is ... out of step with this attempt to reset the relationship," said James Leibold, Associate Professor of Politics and Asian Studies at La Trobe University. "They're not going to forget Turnbull's earlier strident language any time soon."
Turnbull's tenure as prime minister appeared doomed today as his ruling party struggled with an internecine leadership battle which saw ministers desert Turnbull and call for a leadership vote.
Unrestrained power in your hands
For almost 20 years, Malaysiakini has stayed true to the cause of providing the Malaysian public with the truth. We believe that with unadulterated information, the people will obtain power to make informed decisions.
Decisions which lead to a healthy, robust nation - ours!
Keep the truth alive. Support your robust, independent media. You have the unrestrained power to do so.
Who says it's not our fault?
We aren’t trained to take responsibility.
Everytime we observe an injustice - and choose to keep mum - the prevalence of injustice becomes our fault.
Astute journalism paves the way for the public to be continuously furnished with the fastidious truth. You are continuously empowered to act and to uphold the integrity of the nation.
The Rakyat owns Malaysiakini
We choose to take a risk on independent media because we believe that only through independent reporting can one be NOT beholden to the interest of businesses or organisations. This allows us to really pursue the truth - aggressively.
Independent for 20 years.
The victorious people
In the light of holding the truth to power, Malaysiakini will continue to uphold its mission of providing credible news to its discerning public. Your support for Malaysiakini is always treasured as a testament of innate nationalism. Your victory is our history.
Quietly. Effectively. Says it all. Malaysiakini.
Speaking truth to power
When we embarked on this journey 20 years ago, we knew we would face intimidation, harassment, raids, arrests and perhaps even jail terms. We got into this venture with our eyes wide open.
The main reason we have survived this long - when many others have folded - is partly because we are prudent in our finances. But while we may be tightfisted in our budgeting, we do not hold back when it comes to speaking truth to power and holding power to account. And certainly, this new administration will not stop us from continuing to do so.