CANBERRA, Australia — Washington will not pressure its allies to avoid certain telecommunication companies over cybersecurity concerns, a U.S. official said Thursday amid controversy over Australia's banning Chinese giant Huawei from working on a national broadband network.
Beijing's relations with Western governments have been strained by complaints about hacking traced to China and aimed at oil, technology and other companies. A U.S. congressional panel has said it will investigate whether allowing Huawei and other Chinese makers of telecoms gear to expand in the United States might aid Chinese spying.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano visited Australia on Thursday to sign bilateral agreements including ones on information sharing. The United States and Australia announced plans in September to include cybersecurity in their 61-year-old defense alliance, the first time Washington has done that with a partner outside NATO.
Napolitano told The Associated Press she could not comment on media speculation that the United States had suggested Australia's Huawei ban during President Barack Obama's visit to Australia in November.
"We respect Australia and it's sovereignty, and it's not our place to give advice," she said.
China's Commerce Ministry last month condemned Australia's ban on Huawei as "unjust." Huawei itself rejected suggestions it might be a security risk, saying it has won the trust of global telecoms carriers.
Huawei is one of the world's biggest producers of switching equipment that forms the heart of phone and data networks.