Canada to ban Chinese telecoms Huawei and ZTE from 5G networks

Canada has said it will ban Huawei and ZTE from providing 5G services in the country, in the latest move by a US ally to target Chinese telecoms equipment makers.

Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s minister for innovation, science and industry, said on Thursday that the country intends “to prohibit the inclusion of products and services from Huawei and ZTE in the system of Canadian Telecommunications”.

“Vendors who have already installed this equipment will have to stop using it and remove it,” he said. The federal government will not compensate companies for the removal of Huawei and ZTE equipment, he added. Equipment used for 4G networks will also have to be removed.

The United States and many of its allies have expressed serious concerns over Huawei’s global expansion in recent years, fearing the company has ties to China’s military and is facilitating Beijing’s cyber espionage around the world.

“We’ve been waiting for this for three years,” Alykhan Velshi, Huawei’s vice president of corporate affairs for the Americas, told CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, in an interview.

“We are disappointed with the result, but what the government has announced is the intention to introduce legislation, but at the moment there is no ban on the book for the sale of Huawei equipment. .”

Velshi said the federal government did not tell Huawei what national security threat the company’s equipment posed to Canada.

“It’s up to the government to provide proof that Huawei is a national security threat as they claim. They haven’t.”

The Chinese Embassy in Canada called the decision politically motivated and said Beijing would take “all necessary measures” to protect its businesses.

The embassy also said that Huawei and ZTE have strong cybersecurity records and that Ottawa’s move not only harmed Chinese interests but also violated the principles of free trade and market economies.

The United States had long urged Canada to join other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network – which includes the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand – in banning Huawei from their national telecommunications networks. . The UK and Australia have imposed restrictions that prohibit the Chinese company from operating in their markets.

Huawei network equipment is used by a number of major Canadian telecommunications companies. In December, the Chinese group said Canadian telecommunications had spent more than C$700 million (US$546 million) on its technology.

The Trump administration has taken several steps to ban Huawei from participating in 5G networks in the United States as part of an effort to hamper the Shenzhen-based company.

It also placed the group on a Commerce Department blacklist, known as the “Entity List,” which prohibited U.S. companies from supplying technology to Huawei, and imposed additional restrictions that required any seeing company to provide Huawei with products containing U.S. technology to be licensed. export control license.

The Huawei ban comes eight months after Ottawa allowed Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, to return to China after three years in detention in Vancouver. Meng had been detained for criminal fraud and was being held pending a decision by a Canadian court on whether she could be extradited to the United States. She was released after reaching an agreement with US prosecutors.

Hours after Meng’s release, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that two Canadian citizens detained in China for more than three years — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, nicknamed the “two Michaels” — had been released.

Some experts have speculated that Canada had previously been reluctant to ban Huawei despite US pressure because it wanted to ensure it could secure the two men’s release.

Days after Meng and the “two Michaels” came out, Trudeau said a decision on whether to ban 5G gear made by Huawei was weeks away. But months passed before Thursday’s announcement.

“We took the time necessary to do this review, consult with allies,” Champagne said. “When you’re dealing with national security, you have to take the time to get it right.”

Pressure on Huawei has increased in recent years as the United States cracks down on Chinese companies it believes are enabling spying on Beijing or undertaking activities that could threaten US national security.

The Financial Times reported this month that the Biden administration plans to impose tough sanctions on Hikvision, a Chinese surveillance camera company accused of facilitating human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Additional reporting by Maiqi Ding in Beijing and Edward White in Seoul

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