US envoy to Australia reveals joint bid to block Huawei in Papua New Guinea
8 October 2018
In a blatant political intervention, the US chargé d’affaires to Australia, James Carouso, last week announced that the United States, Japan and Australia have made a domestic internet cable proposal to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to counter an offer by Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant.
Back in October 2016, Huawei announced plans to establish a 5,457-kilometre marine network, covering 14 of the most populated cities in PNG, which would also connect to Jayapura, Indonesia, a major access point to global cable systems.
The design capacity of the network would be 8 terabits per second, which could meet demand for bandwidth in PNG for more than 10 years, the company said. In addition, the network would cover more than 55 percent of PNG’s population, and provide more than 70 percent of the country’s bandwidth by 2026.
Australian government ministers had refused to comment in public about the affair, but Carouso—who is the top US representative in Australia, as there is currently no ambassador—answered a reporter’s questions bluntly. “We’re working on a counter offer,” Carouso told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on September 28. “These are negotiations that are going on.”
To avoid accusations of US interference in PNG, Carouso quickly added: “Absolutely up to the PNG government at the end of the day.” However, the fact that Carouso chose to make very public the pressure being applied to the PNG government to abandon the deal with Huawei is clearly a shot across the bows of both the PNG and Australian governments.
In particular, the Australian government, currently led by the recently-installed Prime Minister Scott Morrison, is…