The Australian arm of China’s Huawei Technologies Co. has cited negative business conditions for pulling out as the major sponsor of professional rugby league club the Canberra Raiders, as diplomatic tensions between the nations worsen.
The almost decade-long deal with the team, based in the nation’s capital, was Huawei’s first major sponsorship in the world and was a highlight for the company “during some very difficult periods,” it said in a statement on Monday.
Huawei decided to end the sponsorship, which was due to run until at least the end of the 2021 season, a year early. “The continued negative business environment is having a larger than originally forecasted impact on our planned revenue stream,” it said.
Australia in 2018 banned Huawei from helping to build its 5G network on national security grounds, a decision that helped spark a deterioration in relations. Ties got worse in April, when Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government called for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus.
In a move aimed at weakening China’s ability to gain influence in the nation through its Belt and Road Initiative, Morrison announced last week he was seeking new powers to veto or scrap agreements that state governments reach with foreign powers.