Canada, the only member of the “Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network” that has not banned Huawei’s 5G equipment in their country, recently announced that it plans to ban Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp’s 5G tech from the country.
For those unaware, the Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
According to a Reuters report, Canada’s Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said, “We intend to exclude Huawei and ZTE from our 5G networks.” He added, “Providers who already have this equipment installed will be required to cease its use and remove it under the plans we’re announcing today.”
According to the recently announced plans, companies will be required to remove their 5G gear by June 2024 and will not receive any reimbursements for the gear. On the other hand, companies using Huawei or ZTE’s 4G equipment have a window till the end of 2027 to remove it.
China has expressed opposition to this decision with the country’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stating “We will take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate interests of Chinese firms.” A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy has accused Canada of working with the United States to suppress Chinese companies.
Alykhan Velshi, vice president of corporate affairs for Huawei in Canada, said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp that the company is still waiting to hear “what sort of national security threats they think Huawei poses”. He added that Huawei still has 1,500 employees in Canada, mostly in research and development, and sold products like mobile phones, and would continue to do so.
Huawei Canada has also released an official statement on the matter stating the following.
Huawei Canada is disappointed by the Canadian government’s decision. This is an unfortunate political decision that has nothing to do with cyber security or any of the technologies in question.
Over the past 13 years, Huawei Canada has devoted itself to helping Canadian carriers build out their wireless networks and provide quality services for the Canadian people. Huawei equipment, including both hardware and software, has been routinely and closely scrutinized by the government and its security agencies according to stringent quality standards. There have been zero security incidents caused by Huawei equipment throughout this entire period. We are proud of our security record in Canada.
Banning Huawei’s equipment and services will lead to significant economic loss in Canada and drive up the cost of communications for Canadian consumers. Unfortunately, this decision is beyond our control as a business. However, we will do everything in our capacity to protect the legitimate rights and interests of our customers, partners, and ourselves. We thank all of our Canadian partners, customers, and consumers for their ongoing support, and look forward to contributing to future network rollout in Canada when conditions permit.
The ban was widely expected and was delayed due to diplomatic tensions between China and Canada after the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada on a U.S warrant.
To recall, Canada first announced its plans to review Huawei equipment on the grounds of national security back in September 2018. Later that year, Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada leading to long-running diplomatic tensions between the two nations that ended with Meng Wanzhou’s release in September last year.