The Canadian government said Thursday that wireless carriers in Canada will not be allowed to install Huawei equipment in high-speed 5G networks, joining allies in banning the Chinese technology giant.
Canada was the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence-gathering coalition that does not prohibit or restrict the use of equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. in their 5G networks. The United States and other members – Britain, Australia and New Zealand – have previously banned Huawei.
“We announce our intention to ban the inclusion of Huawei and ZTE products and services in Canadian telecoms systems,” Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said.
The Canadian ban also includes ZTE Corp. , which is one of the largest technology companies in China and one of the state-owned.
“Providers of this equipment who have already installed this equipment will be required to discontinue its use and remove it,” Champagne added. He said Canadian wireless carriers would not be awarded compensation.
Canada’s major wireless companies have already started working with other providers.
“There are many hostile actors willing to exploit weaknesses in our defences,” Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said.
Mendicino said the government has conducted a comprehensive review and is redoubling its efforts to protect Canadians.
The US government has been pressing allies like Canada for years to exclude Huawei from its new ultra-fast 5G mobile phone networks over concerns that China’s communist rulers could force the company to help with cyber espionage.
The United States has warned that it will reconsider sharing intelligence with any country that uses Huawei equipment.
The company has repeatedly denied these allegations.
“We are disappointed but not surprised. “We were surprised that the government took so long to make a decision,” said Huawei spokesperson Alikhan Felshi. “We view this as a political decision, arising primarily from political pressure from the United States.”
Velshi said there will be Huawei equipment in Canada for years to come. He said the company has more than 1,500 employees in Canada, two-thirds of whom work in research and development.
The development of fifth generation networks, or 5G, will give people faster connections over the Internet and provide massive data capacity to meet the insatiable demand as more and more things are connected to the Internet and innovations such as virtual reality, immersive gaming and autonomous vehicles.
Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of network equipment to telephone and Internet companies. It has been a symbol of China’s progress in becoming a global technological power – and a subject of US security and law enforcement concerns.
Some analysts say Chinese companies have broken international rules and norms and stolen technology.
China, the United States and Canada completed what was effectively a high-risk prisoner exchange last year that involved a senior Huawei executive who was accused by the United States of fraud.
China jailed two Canadians shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder, at a US extradition request.
They were returned to Canada in September, the same day Meng returned to China after reaching an agreement with US authorities in her case.
Several countries have described China’s actions as a “hostage policy,” while China has described the charges against Huawei and Meng as a politically motivated attempt to impede China’s economic and technological development.
“The decision should have been made two or three years ago, but delay is better than no delay,” Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said of the move to ban Huawei.
“We are facing a China that is more aggressive in the conduct of its foreign policy but also in the way it obtains information to achieve its goals.”
Saint-Jacques said that under Chinese law no company could refuse a request from the Chinese government to share information, so it was impossible to allow Huawei to share.
China is expected to retaliate.
“I expect we will hear from them very quickly,” he said. “They’re using trade as a weapon and I think that’s what we’ll see in this case.”
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