THE Chinese technology company Huawei says Australia could be in breach of its international trade obligations if it adopts national security proposals that could allow the government to exclude ''certain foreign technology and service suppliers'' from the market.
Huawei, a privately owned Chinese company, was banned from involvement with the national broadband network amid fears it would compromise Australia's national security.
The company, which has 150,000 staff in 140 countries, fears it will be further sidelined from Australia by proposed national security measures.
Huawei's Australian chairman, John Lord, told a parliamentary committee in Canberra yesterday that the company had not been told why it had been ruled out of the network.
''The actual reason that we were excluded from the NBN we do not know, and you'll have to ask the government,'' he said.
Huawei's Australian board comprises Mr Lord, the former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer, and the former Victorian premier John Brumby.
But Mr Lord, a retired rear admiral, and Huawei's business development director, David Wang, acknowledged that anti-Chinese sentiment could count against the company's desire to build wireless or fixed-line networks in Australia.
MPs asked them about Huawei's relationship with the Chinese Communist Party , whether communist cells formed part of the management structure, and whether the company had ever installed ''back door'' provisions in computer hardware that would allow hackers to gain access later.
Mr Lord and Mr Wang denied the company had installed spyware in its networks and technology. Mr Wang said Huawei was being discriminated against because of its image.
''In China we're considered capitalist; elsewhere in the world we're considered communist,'' he said. ''The challenges that we're facing are, a lot of challenge is from the misunderstanding about Huawei's ownership, of the relationship with Chinese government.
''Again we would say, we are doing this global wide, in 140 countries with 400 telcos … We have a very good record. You can't assume domestic suppliers are safer than overseas.''
The company has built broadband networks in eight countries, and runs telecommunication networks in other countries, including Iran.
''By barring unilaterally some companies and their technologies, Australia will fall behind in the advantages of the new digital economy,'' Mr Lord said. ''Imposing country-of-origin restrictions could raise concerns about Australia's international commitments.''
Parliament's national security committee is considering a range of proposals to amend to security laws, including the suggestion that mobile and phone data be retained for up to two years.
The Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, has said she will not decide on the proposals until the committee makes its findings.
On Thursday, Huawei's US corporate senior vice-president, Charles Ding, appeared before the US House of Representatives intelligence committee, which was conducting a hearing into the possible threat posed by telecommunications companies influenced by foreign nations.
He told the committee: "Although we want to expand our presence in the US and thus create more employment and growth opportunities, we have been hindered by unsubstantiated, non-specific concerns that Huawei poses a security threat.
''We have respectfully asked [the committee] … to provide us with any allegations it has that Huawei has engaged in national security or economic espionage … [it] has not responded.''
Huawei's global cyber security officer, John Suffolk, a former British government chief information officer, recently published a white paper that ''guarantees that [Huawei's] commitment to cyber security will never be outweighed by the consideration of commercial interests".