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Australia looks to wall off sensitive tech from 'national security risks'

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is due to unveil on Wednesday a 'Critical Technologies List' – a step toward limiting what government, industry and universities can and cannot share with foreign counterparts. AFP

Australia looks to wall off sensitive tech from 'national security risks'

Australia is due to announce measures on November 17 to ring-fence dozens of sensitive technologies from foreign interference, stepping up efforts to safeguard against "national security risks".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will unveil a "Critical Technologies List" at an online forum in Sydney – a step toward limiting what government, industry and universities can and cannot share with foreign counterparts.

The list of 63 critical technologies will include quantum technologies, which are based on the physics of sub-atomic particles, as well as artificial intelligence, drones and vaccines.

The measures aim to "balance the economic opportunities of critical technologies with their national security risks", Morrison will tell a forum organised by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, according to a speech seen by AFP.

Australia has become increasingly concerned about the transfer of sensitive technology to foreign military powers under the guise of academic cooperation.

Canberra has also moved to limit the ability of Chinese state-linked firms to operate critical infrastructure in Australia.

A decision to effectively bar Huawei from running Australia's 5G network was the catalyst for a major diplomatic rift between the two countries, which has frozen high-level diplomatic relations and a raft of sanctions that some have called a "shadow trade war".

Australia is currently in the process of auctioning off 5G spectrum licences.

Morrison on November 17 was also set to list nine critical technologies that will be the focus for investment, hoping the expertise will help "uphold our liberal democratic traditions" in what he describes as an era of "strategic competition".

"The simple fact is that nations at the leading edge of technology have greater economic, political and military power," according to the prime minister.

"And, in turn, greater capacity to influence the norms and values that will shape technological development in the years to come."

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