Australia's defense and foreign ministries are removing surveillance cameras made by Chinese-run firms from their facilities, the foreign minister said on Friday, after reports that the technology posed a security risk.
The removal of the cameras comes as the two countries are attempting to mend diplomatic ties, damaged in part by a 2018 Australian decision to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G broadband network.
"We are removing them. I've asked my department to accelerate the replacement of these cameras, the defense minister has asked Defence to make sure they're removed and replaced," Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in an interview with state broadcaster ABC.
Britain in November asked its government departments to stop installing Chinese-linked surveillance cameras at sensitive buildings, citing security risks, while some US states have banned vendors and products from several Chinese companies.
"We are removing them. I've asked my department to accelerate the replacement of these cameras, the defense minister has asked Defence to make sure they're removed and replaced,"Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong
China's foreign ministry, in response to a question on Thursday about the concern about the equipment, urged Australia to provide "a fair environment" for Chinese companies.
Defense Minister Richard Marles said the Chinese-made cameras installed under a previous government had been removed from his ministry, adding he did not expect the decision to have an impact on relations with China.
"We take steps in respect of our own security, which countries are completely entitled to do," he told reporters.
"We really value a productive relationship with China. China is our largest trading partner."
Opposition lawmaker James Paterson said an audit he had done had revealed almost 1,000 units of equipment by Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology 002415.SZ and Dahua Technology Co 002236.SZ - two partly state-owned Chinese firms - were installed across more than 250 Australian government offices.
Hikvision said on Thursday it was "categorically false" their equipment posed a threat to Australian national security. Read full story
Dahua Technology did not respond to a request for comment.