Stephen Harper weighs in

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ROBERT FIFE STEVEN CHASE

For­mer prime minister Stephen Harper says he sup­ports the United States’s cam­paign to per­suade Canada and other key al­lies to ban the use of Huawei equip­ment in next-gen­er­a­tion telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works.

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment has so far re­fused to join the ma­jor­ity of the Five Eyes In­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity in bar­ring Huawei equip­ment from be­ing used in the in­fra­struc­ture that will sup­port 5G mo­bile net­works. Canada is, how­ever, con­duct­ing a re­view re­gard­ing whether the Chi­nese tele­com equip­ment maker’s gear rep­re­sents a na­tional-se­cu­rity risk, as al­leged by the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies of the United States, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Mr. Harper told Fox News on Thurs­day that, as prime minister, he had be­come in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the pen­e­tra­tion of Huawei and fel­low Chi­nese tele­com-equip­ment man­u­fac­turer ZTE into West­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works.

“These are or­ga­ni­za­tions, ul­ti­mately tightly tied to the Chi­nese se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus, and we think there are some real, se­ri­ous is­sues there,” Mr. Harper said. “The United States is en­cour­ag­ing West­ern al­lies to es­sen­tially push Huawei out of the emerg­ing 5G net­work, and my per­sonal view is that is some­thing West­ern coun­tries should be do­ing in terms of our own long-term se­cu­rity is­sues.”

The Five Eyes in­tel­li­gence­shar­ing al­liance con­sists of Aus­tralia, Canada, New Zealand, Bri­tain and the United States. Canada has al­ready been warned by U.S. sen­a­tors on the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee in Wash­ing­ton that al­low­ing Huawei in­side the next gen­er­a­tion of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works could re­sult in the Amer­i­cans re­strict­ing Cana­dian ac­cess to U.S. in­tel­li­gence.

The United States, Aus­tralia and New Zealand have barred wire­less op­er­a­tors in their coun­tries from up­grad­ing to Huawei 5G tech­nol­ogy, which would pro­vide faster down­loads and con­nect ev­ery­thing, from driver­less cars to heart mon­i­tors, to the in­ter­net. Bri­tain and Canada have yet to make a de­ci­sion on whether to ban their tele­coms from us­ing Huawei equip­ment.

Mr. Harper would not com­ment on Canada’s Dec. 1 ar­rest of Huawei chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Meng Wanzhou at the re­quest of Amer­i­can law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials on sus­pi­cions of vi­o­lat­ing U.S. trade sanc­tions against Iran.

U.S. gov­ern­ment ef­forts to ex­tra­dite the se­nior Chi­nese tele­com ex­ec­u­tive, whose fa­ther is the founder of Huawei, comes as Wash­ing­ton and Bei­jing are in the midst of a trade war and as the United States in­ten­si­fies pres­sure on al­lies to shun the Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant.

How­ever, Mr. Harper said West­ern coun­tries must rec­og­nize that China is a geopo­lit­i­cal ri­val that has made “no se­cret of the de­sire to spread an al­ter­na­tive to West­ern demo­cratic norms.”

Mr. Harper also spoke out against China’s un­fair trade prac­tices at the same time as it has wide-rang­ing ac­cess to mar­kets in North Amer­ica and Europe.

“Our ac­cess to their mar­kets is ex­tremely lim­ited. It has caused a loss of mil­lions of jobs in North Amer­ica and, frankly, the trade deficits keep grow­ing as China gets more wealthy.” he said. “The United States has es­sen­tially been pay­ing for the rise of an al­ter­na­tive ri­val.”

When Mr. Harper was prime minister, his gov­ern­ment sent a pub­lic sig­nal to Huawei in 2012 that it would block the firm from bid­ding to build the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s lat­est telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and e-mail net­work.

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