5G: Ottawa definitively closes the door to Huawei

5G: Ottawa definitively closes the door to Huawei

The decision was confirmed at a press conference on Thursday afternoon by Ministers François-Philippe Champagne (Innovation, Science and Industry) and Marco Mendicino (Public Security). It also affects ZTE, another partially state-owned Chinese company.

This follows a thorough review by our independent security agencies and in consultation with our closest allies.said Minister Champagne.

In particular, he raised issues of National securityhighlighting the importance ofensure the integrity [des] telecommunications systems from Canada.

Minister Mendicino also said the Liberal government would introduce legislation to further strengthen Canada’s telecommunications system and create a framework to protect national security.

Photo: Canadian Press/David Kawai

Additionally, Canadian companies that already use Huawei and ZTE components in their current networks will have to stop using and retire them. These will not be compensated, Minister Champagne said, nor will Huawei and ZTE, his cabinet later clarified.

That said, the vast majority of Canadian telcos had already made the decision to stop doing business with these two Chinese companies, Champagne said on Thursday.

China deeply unhappy

Beijing’s response was swift. In a Mandarin statement posted on its website Thursday night, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa says China is concerned Y deeply unhappy of the turn of events.

The decision announced by Ministers Champagne and Mendicino, taken for reasons of so-called national security, without any conclusive evidence, […] violates the principles of the market economy and the rules of free trade Y will certainly damage the international image from Canada, he laments.

Also, China will make a full and serious evaluation of this incident and take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.the statement said.

a complicated question

The Canadian government announced in September 2018 that it would study potential national security threats posed by the use of Huawei equipment. Thus, the Trudeau government will have been in suspense for more than three years.

The thorny case revolves around allegations that Huawei is subject to requests from the Chinese government, particularly in terms of intelligence gathering.

Because the development of 5G networks will allow users to use faster connections and large data capacities to meet the high demand given the increasing number of devices, from virtual reality headsets to motorized vehicles, connected to the Internet.

However, several experts have pointed out in recent years that Huawei’s participation in the rollout of the 5G standard could give it access to a whole series of digital information based on the way Canadian customers use web-connected devices, as well like when and where they do it.

According to this theory, Chinese security agencies could force the company to hand over this personal data to them.

Huawei, for its part, has always maintained that it is a company fiercely independent who is not engaged in espionage activities. This plea was echoed in particular by the Chinese ambassador to Canada, who urged Ottawa to ignore the warnings. made up by Washington on Huawei.

The US has already banned Huawei from its 5G networks, as has the UK and Australia. These three countries, along with Canada and New Zealand, make up the Five Eyes (five eyes, in English), a group of countries that pool certain intelligence resources.

Other countries such as Japan and Sweden have also made the decision to exclude Huawei from their telecommunications systems in recent years.

It is a decision that is in line with that of our alliesstressed Minister Champagne on Thursday.

If so, why is Canada’s decision so late? it was never a racethe minister repeated to all the journalists who asked him the question on Thursday. What matters to people watching today is making the right decision.

Meng Wanzhou walking outside.

Huawei’s file has become much more complex with the Meng Wanzhou case.

Photo: Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward

The long-awaited decision announced by the Trudeau government on Thursday had been postponed due to diplomatic tensions between Ottawa and Beijing in recent years.

Huawei’s file had become particularly complex with the arrest, in Vancouver, of Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the Chinese giant’s founder, Meng Wanzhou.

This case had marked the beginning of a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries, with the parallel arrest in China of Michael Spavor, a specialist on North Korea, and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat based in Beijing, which had been widely seen as a response from the Chinese government.

Mr. Kovrig chats with Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Spavor gets a hug from Dominic Barton.

Both Michaels returned to Canada on the same plane. In the photo, Mr. Kovrig chats with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while Mr. Spavor, in a pale gray suit, receives a hug from Canada’s Ambassador to China, Dominic Barton.

Photo: Reuters / Canadian Department of National Defense

After about three years of proceedings, Meng Wanzhou was finally released at the end of September 2021 and returned to China. The two Canadians were also calmly released.

Jean-François Lépine, a former diplomat and China and Asia specialist, believes the Trudeau government has chosen the right time to ban Huawei from Canada.

Because China is currently overwhelmed with problemsnoted in an interview Thursday: COVID, a great crisis in the whole country; the war in Ukraine, in which China has positioned itself and which has greatly harmed it throughout the world; and the Chinese economy which, as a consequence of these two phenomena, is in decline.

In addition, the risks of retaliation against Canada are relatively low, believes Mr. Lépine, who served as Quebec’s representative in China for several years.

By supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Beijing has greatly lost the confidence of Europe, of the United States, and therefore of its two main economic partners. Besides, China can’t do much […] afford to alienate another country by taking steps that would be extraordinaryhe believes.

With information from Louis Blouin, Laurence Martin, The Canadian Press and Agence France-Presse

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