"Frankly, this is where I think the state has a role to play - to ensure we don't make decisions that compromise the foundations of our national security."
Huawei Australia's chairman, John Lord, recently told the Financial Review that "Malcolm Turnbull is making positive statements about us and that is a good position for us to be in".Photo: Andrew Meares
General Hayden is the only person to have led America's two highest-profile intelligence services. He ran the NSA, which collects information from electronic sources, between 1999 and 2005 and the CIA from 2006 to 2009. He noted he could not comment on specific classified matters.
General Hayden is a visiting professor at George Mason University, a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy, and a director of Motorola Solutions, which provides radios, smart tags, barcode scanners and safety products for law enforcement agencies, and does not regard Huawei as a direct competitor. A Huawei Australia spokesman said it does compete against Motorola Solutions, albeit with different products.
Huawei, which is China's second-largest company, has been dogged by controversy in its efforts to sell telecommunications infrastructure to the Australian, Indian, American, European, UK, Canadian and New Zealand markets.
Since the Financial Review reported in March 2012 that Huawei was banned from helping build the NBN on the advice of security agencies, the company has worked hard to improve its image in Australia.
TURNBULL 'MAKING POSITIVE STATEMENTS'
The director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine, has personally briefed Mr Turnbull and Ms Bishop on the company. Mr Turnbull said ASIO didn't disclose the top-secret advice it gave to the government.
Huawei Australia's chairman, John Lord, recently told the Financial Review that "Malcolm Turnbull is making positive statements about us and that is a good position for us to be in compared to 18 months ago".
"I think the board and management has been quite successful opening up and showing people there is nothing in Huawei other than a very, very smart company that can bring benefits to Australia," Mr Lord said.
Former Coalition foreign minister Alexander Downer is a member of Huawei Australia's board. He wrote last year that "Huawei is a tribute to capitalism's creativity".
James Lewis, a director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and former State Department official specialising in commercial technology risk, said General Hayden's remarks reflected the view of the US government.
The CIA says that Huawei's chairman, Sun Yafang, previously worked for the Ministry of State Security, China's foreign intelligence service.Photo: Bloomberg
"Officials within several agencies have privately told me that Huawei is a national security threat," he said.
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