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Chinese networking company Huawei – recently barred from tendering for work on the National Broadband Network over security concerns – has proposed establishment of a “cyber security evaluation centre” in Australia to test security credentials of operators tendering for major infrastructure projects.

Huawei Australia chairman John Lord – a former Royal Australian Navy admiral – yesterday told the National Press Club the centre could be funded by vendors but operated or overseen by security-cleared Australian nationals to assure transparency of all equipment.

But he was unable to say how much such a centre might cost. He hadn’t spoken to other vendors, nor even to his Chinese masters.

Lord said the recent negative report on Huawei by a US congressional intelligence committee had little substance and should be seen as a call for more protectionism rather than security.

The committee had concluded that both Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese telecommunications equipment provider, posed a threat to US national security and should be restricted more tightly from doing business in the US.

On the Australian Government’s decision to bar Huawei from the NBN, Lord said: “We have accepted the Government’s decision and we have moved on. Of course we stand at the ready if the situation changes, but we respect the Government’s right to make such determinations.”

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