The Canadian government has announced its banning of Huawei’s and fellow Chinese tech company ZTE’s equipment from their 5G networks following national security concerns over China’s National Intelligence Law.
Canada bans Huawei, ZTE 5G equipment
In a policy statement, the Canadian government says that such Chinese suppliers could be compelled to comply with “extrajudicial directions from foreign governments in ways that would conflict with Canadian laws or would be detrimental to Canadian interests.”
Canada is set to implement the prohibition of telcos from procuring new 5G or even 4G equipment from the Chinese companies by September this year, and shall remove all Huawei- and ZTE-owned 5G equipment from their networks by June 28th, 2024.
Existing 4G equipment managed by the companies shall also be removed from their 4G networks by the end of 2027.
“The [Canadian] Government is committed to maximizing the social and economic benefits of 5G and access to telecommunications services writ large, but not at the expense of security,” the Canadian government wrote, which is considered to be referencing the said Chinese law.
Critics claim that China’s National Intelligence Law can be used to have Chinese organizations and citizens cooperate with state intelligence work, according to CBC News.
In other words, doubts intensified as the law can be used as a ‘backdoor’ for the Chinese government to force Chinese tech companies like Huawei and ZTE to relay sensitive information from foreign networks.
Huawei argued that such a claim is based on ‘misreading’ of the controversial law.
“Huawei has never received such a request and we would categorically refuse to comply if we did. Huawei is an independent company that works only to serve its customers,” the company said in a Q&A webpage.
“We would never compromise or harm any country, organization, or individual, especially when it comes to cyber security and user privacy protection,” the company added.
China’s Canadian embassy spokesperson CONG Peiwu also responded to Canada’s ban, “Facts have proved that Huawei and ZTE have been maintaining a very good record on network security. Without any solid evidence, the Canadian side decided to exclude Huawei and ZTE from the Canadian market under the pretext of the so-called national security, which has flagrantly overstretched the concept of national security, blatantly violated market economy principles and free trade rules, and undermined the legitimate rights and interests of related Chinese enterprises.”
“China will comprehensively and seriously evaluate this incident and take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies,” Peiwu concludes.
The ban makes Canada the latest member of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance to have implemented restrictions on the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment away from their telecommunication networks.
The UK also banned the use of Huawei’s equipment in 2020, and ordered its removal by 2027, along with other countries like Australia and New Zealand due to the similar national security grounds.