Follows comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Victoria's involvement in Belt and Road
The U.S. ambassador to Australia has stressed that the United States is confident that Australia can protect the security of its telecommunications networks and by extension those of its Five Eyes intelligence partners.
The assurance comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would not hesitate to “simply disconnect” or “separate” from Australia if the Victorian states involvement in Beijings Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) threatens telecommunications security.
U.S. Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse Jr. issued a statement on May 24 to “set the record straight.”
“The United States has absolute confidence in the Australian governments ability to protect the security of its telecommunications networks and those of its Five Eyes partners,” he said.
Culvahouse said the United States has made no secret of its concerns about the security risks to 5G networks but commended Australias “leadership on the issue.”
The ambassador clarified that Pompeo was asked by Sky News to address a hypothetical, and Pompeo was careful to note that he wasnt familiar with the state of Victorias BRI discussions with China.
“We are not aware that Victoria has engaged in any concrete projects under BRI, let alone projects impinging on telecommunications networks, which we understand are a federal matter,” said Culvahouse.
“If there were telecommunications initiatives that we thought put the integrity of our networks at risk, of course we would have to take a close look at that, as the secretary suggested.”
Victorias Labor Premier Daniel Andrews has signed two agreements with Beijings National Development and Reform Commission, progressing the states involvement in the BRI. A third agreement is due to be signed middle of 2020.