Imagine if an angry President Xi threatened to shut every subway train, or every traffic signal in a province, or worse, every power plant in Canada during a winter cold snap
Oct 05, 2021 •
Fifth-generation wireless technology will make driverless cars, remote surgeries and other marvels of technology possible — as well as simply faster entertainment downloads. But it could also unleash devastation at the hands of a hostile regime, as China has proven to be over the past few years.
Charles Burton, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a former counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, points out that Huawei is not like other telecommunications companies.
First, as he points out, the recent events of the two Michaels — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — being released within hours of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s release on Sept. 25 is proof that Huawei is not just another large corporation in China.
“The Chinese government treating Ms. Meng not simply as the chief financial officer of a large corporation, but really as a key element in the regime, really underlines how integrated Huawei is into the Chinese Communist Party regime,” Burton said during a Monday telephone interview from Ottawa. “The fact that they so explicitly linked the two Michaels to Ms. Meng — without even trying to hide that — is really indicative of how integrated Huawei is in the Chinese military and security apparatus.”
The Chinese government and Huawei spokespeople have long maintained that the tech giant would not be used for espionage purposes or for political reasons as a bargaining chip, but Chinese President Xi Jinping also denied for almost three years that the two Michaels were held as leverage in the Meng case. Clearly, that wasn’t true.
ence Alliance (which consists of the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada) have all banned Huawei from having any part in their 5G networks — except for Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he hopes to share a decision on whether to ban Huawei from Canada’s 5G network in the coming weeks.
Speaking to reporters at a media conference last Tuesday, Trudeau said his government is still weighing different options but will “look forward to sharing a decision on many different issues, including on telecommunications and Huawei in the coming weeks.”
This delay in making a decision on Huawei concerns Burton.
“Considering that the matter has been under consideration for about three years now and the government promised to make a decision before the last election — two elections ago — that does raise concerns that the government is trying to figure out some way to approve Huawei 5G, such as announcing it late on a Friday afternoon before the Christmas break,” said Burton.
“The U.S. administration of both Trump and Biden has said that if Canada does allow the Huawei 5G technology into telecommunications, this will imperil the ability of the U.S. to share intelligence in the Five Eyes, which Canada is a net consumer of intelligence. This is very troubling. The idea that Canada might be seen as an unreliable partner for security-related issues is distressing. The fact that President (Joe) Biden referred to Australia as America’s closest and most staunch ally is also disturbing in the sense that Canadians have always felt that Canada was the strongest and closest ally of the United States.”
On Sept. 21, Biden said, “The United States has no closer or more reliable ally than Australia,” moving into a new security pact with Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, including an earlier announcement that Washington would provide Canberra with advanced technology for nuclear-powered submarines as part of a trilateral deal with the UK and in an attempt to hem in China.
“Canada is very much out of sync with our allies and I think China can use that as a wedge to try to weaken the western alliance and improve their own position in Canada and internationally. It’s a big worry,” added Burton.
Many observers expected Trudeau to very quickly come out and announce that Canada would not allow Huawei into our telecommunications system in the days that followed the release of the two Michaels, which would have shown that his reticence to make that announcement was tied exclusively to the safety of the two men who were held in inhumane conditions for 1,020 days. It would be a political win for him.
So why the wait?
After all, public opinion polls indicated that four in five Canadians want the government to ban Huawei from our telecommunications networks.
“To what extent is the Trudeau government prepared to take an action that would illicit enormous public outcry, which this would — from the public, from security experts, from our allies. It would be an explosion. But seeing as the government is aware that there won’t be any election soon — and maybe because the Liberal government, or at least the Trudeau people, might feel this is their last term in government — that they’re prepared to take this action against public opinion because people who are involved in approving the Huawei 5G will presumably be rewarded by the Chinese regime in various ways.”
That’s an astonishing comment.
Huawei is able to provide its 5G technology at a cheaper price than Ericsson, Nokia or Samsung because the Chinese regime has subsidized its so-called “national champion” with billions of dollars and because it also used intellectual property from other telecoms, including Nortel. Huawei already provides some network technology in Canada. Experts say even on the periphery of a network, the Chinese regime could infiltrate critical infrastructure and spy on us.
If Huawei is allowed to supply Canada’s 5G network, our country and our allies will be at risk. It would be as though China was holding 38 million of us for ransom. We mustn’t allow the Trudeau government to do this.
Licia Corbella is a Postmedia columnist in Calgary.