With Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig freed following the release of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei could be the next hurdle in Canada-China relations.
Huawei, the world’s largest smartphone provider, has business deals in Canada and has wanted to build a 5G wireless network in the country for years. Yet the Canadian government has yet to decide whether Chinese telecommunications will be allowed to work with Canadian networks to build a 5G network.
On Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked why his government has not banned Huawei, and if it plans to.
Trudeau said, “We’ve actually seen that many Canadian telecommunications companies, if not all of them, have started removing Huawei from their networks and moving forward in ways that allow them to be incorporated as a company.” don’t.”
“We continue to weigh and look at different options, but we will certainly make announcements in the coming weeks.”
Huawei is closely related to the ruling Chinese government, and for some, the decision to ban it should be an easy one.
“Canada should move as quickly as possible to ban Huawei,” said Margaret McCuegg-Johnson, a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.
In 2020, Rogers, Bell and Telus all tapped Ericsson to be their 5G supplier, with Telus adding Nokia to the list. Despite the carrier finding other partners to work with, McCuegg-Johnson thinks it’s important for Canada to explicitly close the door on Huawei.
“Our telecom carrier needs clarity of policy,” she said.
A spokesman for the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry wrote in an emailed statement to Granthshala News that it aims to ensure “Canadian networks are kept safe and secure” and that the government “compromises on matters of national security”. Won’t do it.”
Although it did not name Huawei specifically, the spokesperson said it would consider “technical and security factors, including the advice of our security agencies and the decisions of our partners and partners.”
“Our government is clear that it will pursue an approach that takes into account important domestic and international considerations, and will make the best decision for the Canadian people,” read the emailed statement.
Canada is a member of the Five Eyes, an intelligence operation between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The other four member states have banned Huawei’s 5G infrastructure efforts.
For David Welch, professor of politics and Granthshala governance at the University of Waterloo, the time to shut down Huawei isn’t as urgent, but he said that with the relationship already rocky, it’s better to move on now. to wait.
“I would be shocked if this was anything other than Canada’s decision to walk away from the 5G rollout with five of our partners,” Welch said.
With the two Michaels being held hostage by China, it was clear to McCuegg-Johnson that the process was being delayed due to weak ties between the two countries.
He said, ‘I worked in the government for 37 years. It doesn’t take more than three years to decide something like this,” she said.
The government has already been delaying the decision ahead of the 2019 federal election. In November 2020, Trudeau voted against a conservative resolution calling on his government to announce a decision on the role of Chinese tech company Huawei in Canada’s 5G network within 30 days. The resolution was passed by 179-146 votes.
In 2020, following the US and UK decisions to ban Huawei, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security said the government was “carefully assessing the security challenges and potential threats involved in future 5G technology.”
In addition to espionage concerns related to Huawei, McCuegg-Johnson said allowing it to acquire 5G infrastructure in Canada for now will ensure it is ready to win all future technology contracts. She said that with 5G being so new, there are concerns about how China, through Huawei, could manipulate the technology in the future if there are any further disputes with Canada.
“If a country is willing to take innocent civilians as hostages and hold them for more than two years, then putting a bug in the system or shutting down the electricity grid of part of Canada is certainly something they are not on. Will consider.”
With regard to what happened to Michaels, McCuegg-Johnson thinks the time has come for Canada, along with its Five Eyes partners, to stand up against a Chinese government that has tried to show its power.
“We’ve seen more malicious intent toward Canada for two-and-a-half years,” McCuegg-Johnson said, noting trade restrictions imposed by China around beef, pork and soybeans.
One of the red herrings that may show where Chinese investment in Canada is going is a national security law enacted by the ruling Chinese Community Party in 2017. The law, in effect, allows the government to access information held by Chinese companies, if they are considered to be in the national interest.
For Welch, the definition of what is in the national interest is not clearly defined, so it is quite possible that beyond Huawei, Canada wants less and less Chinese investment.
“I think there will be a higher level of scrutiny,” he said. “I think there will be less willingness to entertain the Chinese by investing in Canadian corporations.”
Inquiries by Granthshala News to Canada’s and Huawei’s Ministry of Public Security did not respond.
-David Akin. with files of