Canada Puts Off Decision on Huawei’s 5G Role Until After Election
Ottawa will not make a decision on whether to ban China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from the country’s construction of next-generation 5G wireless networks before the federal election in October, a senior government official said.
Canada needs more information from the United States about the nature of the perceived security threat of Huawei, and it most likely won’t come before campaigning begins in early September for the Oct. 21 election, said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, according to a report by The Canadian Press Tuesday.
“I think at this stage, with the amount of time that’s left between now and the issuing of a writ, that it is unlikely for that decision to be taken before an election,” said Goodale in London after a meeting of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, which includes Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
The Chinese telecom equipment giant is under growing scrutiny in the West amid a U.S.-led campaign against the company citing concerns over national security threats and technology theft, allegations that Huawei has long denied.
The U.S. and Australia have barred Huawei from taking part in their 5G networks. New Zealand in late November blocked a deal between its wireless carrier Spark New Zealand and the Chinese telecom company citing security concerns, although Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in an April interview with Caixin said Huawei is not banned from New Zealand. The British government on July 22 said it delayed a decision on whether to sanction Huawei, while allowing the company’s equipment to continue being used in the U.K.’s 5G mobile networks for now.
Canada has been reviewing risks associated with Huawei’s 5G technology and has yet to make a decision. Goodale said the U.S. and Australia have pressed Canada on the issue, but it will take more time for the government to make a decision.
Goodale said Canada will continue a vigorous and ongoing review of which company is best suited to provide equipment for the country's new 5G network.
Canada and China have been locked in a diplomatic dispute since the December arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on an extradition request of the U.S. and China’s subsequent detainment of two Canadian citizens on espionage allegations. China has suspended imports of some key Canadian products amid the souring relations.
Debate over Huawei’s operations in Canada is heated also because of the company’s recent foray into Canada's Far North. Huawei’s Canada unit Monday said it will partner with a northern telecom company and an Inuit development corporation to extend high-speed 4G wireless services to 70 communities in the Arctic and northern Quebec, raising warnings that it will create a monopoly in the region.
Alykhan Velshi, vice president of corporate affairs for Huawei Technologies Canada, said Huawei won’t pose risks and called for a fair hearing. “We are respectful of the government’s processes but hope and expect that any decision that’s made is based on technology, not politics,” Velshi said recently.
There are considerable uncertainties about Canada’s election as the Liberal Party led by current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Conservative Party are running at a statistical tie. A poll by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on July 26 showed that the Conservatives led the race with 34.5% of decided and leaning voters, while the Liberals followed closely with 31.9%.
The Conservative Party has indicated a tougher stance against Huawei compared with the Liberal Party. Conservative leader Andrew Scheerhas has said Huawei should be banned from participating in Canada's new 5G network.
Contact reporter Han Wei (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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