Canada rolls out wel­come mat for Huawei

Cana­dian in­sti­tu­tions have helped Chi­nese com­pany whose gear other coun­tries ban

StarMetro Calgary - - CANADA & WORLD - Natalie Wong

As parts of the world moves to ban Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co. out of se­cu­rity con­cerns, Canada has em­braced the Chi­nese com­pany.

Aus­tralia and New Zealand have ef­fec­tively banned Huawei gear from the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of their mo­bile net­works while oth­ers such as the U.K. and Ger­many may fol­low suit due to wor­ries it could be out­fit­ted to spy on their host na­tions. U.S. reg­u­la­tors also have moved to ex­tend a crack­down on the com­pany.

In­stead of join­ing its peers, Cana­dian phone com­pa­nies, gov­ern­ments and uni­ver­si­ties have all helped the Shen­zhen-based com­pany de­velop its 5G tech. For its part, Huawei has worked to be­come a standup cor­po­rate ci­ti­zen in the coun­try, spon­sor­ing hockey on tele­vi­sion, the coun­try’s main film fes­ti­val, and spend­ing heav­ily on re­search and de­vel­op­ment.

Con­cerns over Huawei leapt to the fore this week af­ter the com­pany’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Wanzhou Meng was ar­rested in Van­cou­ver at the re­quest of U.S. au­thor­i­ties, in a case in which few de­tails have been re­leased, though pos­si­bly linked to a probe of po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of Iran sanc­tions. She’s now fac­ing ex­tra­di­tion to the U.S. and China has de­manded her re­lease, re­new­ing trade ten­sions be­tween the two coun­tries and throw­ing the spot­light back on se­cu­rity Aus­tralia and New Zealand have ef­fec­tively banned Huawei gear from the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of their mo­bile net­works while oth­ers such as the U.K. and Ger­many may fol­low suit due to wor­ries it could be out­fit­ted to spy on their host na­tions. QI­LAI SHEN/BLOOMBERG

is­sues swirling around the com­pany.

“The con­cerns that have been raised by our al­lies are im­por­tant and need to be heeded care­fully,” said Christo­pher Par­sons, re­search as­so­ciate at Munk School of Global Af­fairs and Pub­lic Pol­icy at the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto.

“The po­ten­tial for not just mod­i­fy­ing calls or ex­fil­trat­ing data from a phone call but also cap­tur­ing data from

sen­sors or ma­nip­u­lat­ing data from sen­sors is a very real con­cern,” Par­sons said by phone, adding that se­cu­rity con­cerns are a two-way street. “Cer­tainly other gov­ern­ments also have an equal rea­son to be mind­ful and con­cerned about the es­pi­onage in­ten­tion and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the west.”

Huawei is rac­ing to de­velop 5G tech­nol­ogy, the fifth­gen­er­a­tion mo­bile net­work that could be 100 times faster

than cur­rent tech­nol­ogy and spur break­through ad­vances in such things as au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles.

The com­pany is the third­biggest sup­plier to Van­cou­ver-based Telus Corp., one of Canada’s top three net­work car­ri­ers, ac­cord­ing to sup­ply chain data com­piled by Bloomberg. The two com­pa­nies part­nered on a 5G pi­lot last year. Huawei has also teamed with BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada on an “In­ter­net of Things” pi­lot project to help im­prove the coun­try’s vine­yard op­er­a­tions.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Telus and Huawei didn’t im­me­di­ately re­turn calls and emails seek­ing com­ment.

U.S. law­mak­ers have urged Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to block Huawei from 5G in Canada. The coun­try is re­view­ing its plans for the tech­nol­ogy. Trudeau de­clined on Thurs­day to say what Canada would do.

“The pro­tec­tion of our cit­i­zens and our in­sti­tu­tions is of course of pri­mary im­por­tance to this gov­ern­ment,” Trudeau said to re­porters dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Mon­treal Thurs­day, adding that Canada will con­tinue to take ad­vice from its se­cu­rity agen­cies.

Huawei em­ploys more than 500 peo­ple in Canada. It has a re­search cen­tre in Ot­tawa and has filed more than 1,200 patent ap­pli­ca­tions since 2009 and has projects with at least 10 uni­ver­si­ties across Canada, in­clud­ing the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto and the Uni­ver­sity of Water­loo. The com­pany has re­ceived tax cred­its for re­search and de­vel­op­ment from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, On­tario, B.C. and Que­bec and said it’s ranked among the top 100 R&D spenders in Canada.

“The de­tain­ment of Huawei’s CFO doesn’t im­prove or worsen in any sense the se­cu­rity pos­ture of Huawei with re­gards to Canada,” Par­sons said. “But of course, pol­i­tics have a life of their own and that’s where we’ll see what the op­po­si­tion and other stake­hold­ers do to try and mo­bi­lize this in­for­ma­tion.”

THES­TAR.COM/CANADA

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