Canada is banning 5G equipment from China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE, joining the ranks of the Five Eyes intelligence-pooling alliance. The decision, made in an effort to protect national security, was not a surprise considering the diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
The Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network includes New Zealand, Australia, Britain and USA, all of which have already banned Huawei. The announcement was made on Thursday by Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. The minister told reporters in Ottawa that the products and services of Huawei and ZTE Corp. will no longer be used in Canada's telecommunications systems.
"Providers who already have this equipment installed will be required to cease its use and remove it under the plans we're announcing," he added further. The details of the announcement included that there would be no compensation awarded to companies utilizing the wireless technology and each company has to fulfil the requirement of removing their 5G gear by June, 2024 and 4G equipment by the end of 2027, the Economic Times reported.
The long-running dispute began with the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in December 2018, the same year when Canada first made it public that it would review Huawei products for possible national security threats.
China retaliated in a similar manner by apprehending two Canadians on grounds of espionage. Later, Meng and the two Canadians were released on the same day, tensions were alleviated to some extent but not completely.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino believes, "there are many hostile actors who are ready to exploit vulnerabilities in our defences." Explaining further he said that this decision is a result of the government's extensive reviews and analysis and is focused towards heightening efforts for the protection of Canadians.
According to the Indian Express, the role of United States in implementing this plan is also being highlighted by experts, as they believe the US government has been continuously pressurizing its allies to ban Huawei in fears of the Chinese communist rulers who could force the company to aid with cyberespionage. The American government even cautioned against reconsidering intelligence sharing with any countries that utilize Huawei equipment.
Alykhan Velshi, vice president of corporate affairs for Huawei in Canada, in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said that the company is disappointed but not surprised and still awaiting a proper explanation on "what sort of national security threats they think Huawei poses".
Velshi also believes that this decision has been hugely influenced by political pressure from the US. He stated that Huawei would continue to sell its products and services in the future as the company still has 1,500 employees in Canada, majorly in research and development.