After the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Sweden, it is Canada’s turn to drive Huawei and ZTE out of the 5G market. These Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers will not be able to participate in the deployment of this technology, considered crucial for the digitization of companies in the years to come. Ottawa justifies this decision on security grounds. “She comes after a full review by our security agencies, and in consultation with our closest allies.”said François-Philippe Champagne, the Minister of Industry, during a press conference on Thursday.
Huawei and ZTE are the subject of many fears. The United States fears, in particular, that the first uses its equipment for purposes of espionage on behalf of Beijing. What Huawei has always denied. Washington, which banned ZTE, then Huawei in 2019, has since been lobbying intensely to push its allies, especially on the Old Continent, to do the same. The other fear of the United States and several European countries is that Huawei and ZTE are able to shut down networks remotely in the event of a conflict. This would cause an earthquake in view of the criticality of these infrastructures.
“5G involves risks”
For the Canadian Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino, 5G technology “represents a major opportunity for competition and growth”but “also entails risks”. “There are many hostile actors who are ready to exploit vulnerabilities” in telecommunications networks, he said at a press conference.
The diplomatic relationship between Canada and China soured at the end of 2018 with the arrest, in Vancouver, of Meng Wanzhou, the financial director of Huawei and daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecom juggernaut. This marked the start of a major crisis between the two countries called “hostage diplomacy”, with the parallel detention in China of two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor. After nearly three years of proceedings, Meng Wanzhou was finally released at the end of September 2021 and returned to China. And the two Canadians were released in stride.