In a long-delayed decision, Canada’s federal government has opted to ban the country’s telecoms operators from using Chinese equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE to build their 5G networks, and furthermore intends to order operators to remove such equipment from their existing networks. Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science & Industry, made the following statement yesterday: ‘Today, the Government of Canada is ensuring the long term safety of our telecommunications infrastructure. As part of that, the government intends to prohibit the inclusion of Huawei and ZTE products and services in Canada’s telecommunications systems. This follows a thorough review by our independent security agencies and in consultation with our closest allies. As a result, telecommunications companies that operate in Canada would no longer be permitted to make use of designated equipment or services provided by Huawei and ZTE. As well, companies that already use this equipment installed in their networks would be required to cease its use and remove it. The government intends to implement these measures as part of a broader agenda to promote the security of Canada’s telecommunications networks and in consultation with industry. Our government will always protect the safety and security of Canadians and will take any actions necessary to safeguard our critical telecommunications infrastructure.’
As reported by FT.com, Huawei said in December that Canadian telcos had spent more than CAD700 million (USD546 million) on its technology, but the US has long urged Canada to join fellow members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network – including the UK, Australia and New Zealand – to ban Huawei from their domestic networks, based on allegations of ties to China’s military and cyber espionage. Huawei’s VP of corporate affairs for the Americas, Alykhan Velshi, told Canada’s CBC yesterday: ‘We’ve been expecting this [ban] for three years. We’re disappointed by the outcome, but what the government announced is the intent to introduce legislation, but right now there is no prohibition on the book for selling Huawei equipment.’ Velshi added that the Canadian government has not told Huawei what national security threat the company’s equipment poses. The FT noted that the Chinese Embassy in Canada called the decision politically motivated, stating that Beijing would take ‘all necessary measures’ to protect its companies.