Canada bans Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and ZTE from 5G networks

Canada bans China Technologies Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese company, from participating in the country’s 5G wireless networks, citing national security concerns.

Canadian telecommunications companies may not include any products or services of these telecommunications companies in their networks. Vendors who already have this equipment installed should stop using it and remove it.

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Francois-Philippe Champagne, and the Minister of Public Security, Marco Mendicino, made the announcement to ban these “high-risk sellers” on Thursday in Ottawa.

Specifically, the federal government says it intends to see the Canadian telecommunications industry:

  • Stop buying new 4G or 5G equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE in September 2022;
  • End use of any new or existing Huawei and ZTE 5G equipment and services by June 2024; i
  • End use of any new or existing Huawei and ZTE 4G equipment and services by December 2027.

The federal government says it will introduce “very short-term” legislation that will introduce amendments to the Telecommunications Act that will say it will strengthen Canada’s telecommunications system against national security risks in the financial, telecommunications, energy and transportation sectors. .

“This new legislation will set a framework for better protecting vital systems for our national security and provide the government with a new tool to respond to emerging cyber threats,” Mendicino said.

Among the reasons cited in the government’s “policy statement” that accompanies the announcement are:

  • 5G is expected to introduce a much improved data capacity that will see billions of devices connected and “will serve as a foundation on which other technologies, our digital economy and our critical infrastructure will depend,” so Canada must ensure your security;
  • The government “has serious concerns” that Huawei and ZTE will be “forced to comply with extrajudicial orders from foreign governments in a way that would conflict with Canadian law” or run counter to Canadian interests; i
  • Given the nature of the dynamics of the international supply chain and the “similar concerns” of the Allies, Canada believes that it would be “increasingly difficult for Canada to maintain a high level of warranty testing for certain network equipment.” a number of potential suppliers “.

The federal government has long been under pressure to ban the Chinese telecommunications giant from participating in the development of Canada’s fifth-generation telecommunications infrastructure.

The Liberals have promised for years that an announcement on the subject would arrive, citing the need to follow the right processes, after launching a broader security review of 5G wireless technology in 2018.

On Thursday, Mendicino said that this examination “has been carried out meticulously, responsibly and with all due diligence to protect our national security.”

The transition to 5G is programmed to offer higher speeds and improved interconnectivity. However, according to the federal government, the concern is that “the exploitation of vulnerabilities by malicious actors will be more difficult to protect and that the incidents will have a wider impact than in previous generations of wireless technology.” .

“In the 21st century, cybersecurity is national security. From cyberattacks, cyber espionage and ransomware, threats to Canadians are greater than ever and we will protect them,” Mendicino said.

“It is in this context that we must ensure that Canada’s telecommunications system is safeguarded. 5G networks are being installed across the country, and this innovation represents an important opportunity for competition and growth. however, this opportunity also carries risks. ” continued the Minister of Public Security.

Champagne said that from now on, the government could evolve its policy to include other companies that are considered a risk.

“Because if you think about the Internet of Things, if you think about autonomous vehicles, we all know that the distributed nature of the points that will be connected to the network, we have to protect our network,” he said.

In an interview with CTV News Channel’s Power Play, Alykhan Velshi of Huawei Canada said the company is “obviously disappointed” by the measure, but said the “so-called” ban “is only really aimed at a small aspect. and the decline of our business in Canada. ” . “

Velshi said the technology giant will closely monitor upcoming legislation to ensure that it complies with the foreign investment protection agreement between Canada and China, but that at least in the short term, Huawei will still play a role in the telecommunications network. of Canada.

“And yes, even its 5G network, because of the software that we are currently in the process of deploying with our telecommunications partners, with the knowledge of the government.”

In response to the news, conservatives who have long called for Huawei’s ban denounced the Liberals’ “inaction” as “an international disgrace”, suggesting that the delay has cost millions of dollars, all and that some of the major wireless providers have already moved away from the news. working with Huawei.

“Either compensation will be demanded from the Liberal government of these companies, or the costs will be passed on to consumers. In any case, Justin Trudeau is forcing Canadians to bear the cost of their inaction and failure,” he said. party. critical MP Raquel Dancho and industry MP Gerard Deltell in a statement.

The new Democrats also said the measure had been delayed for some time and called for a “real explanation” as to why it took so long.

“This delay in banning Huawei has cost Canadian consumers. National security and the privacy rights of Canadians were put at risk for no good reason … During this time, the domestic telecommunications market has also been severely affected. “Because they were left in the dark about the future of 5G in Canada,” NDP MP and industry critic Brian Masse said in a statement.


Observers had suspected that the major political decision was delayed in part due to the Chinese arrest of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, which was seen in large part as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. in Canada.

Spavor and Kovrig were released in September 2021 after extradition was withdrawn against Meng. At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would share Canada’s decision on what to do with Huawei “in the coming weeks.”

Canada has been the last resilient member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, with Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States already deciding to ban or restrict Huawei’s involvement in the deployment of its networks. 5G.

Champagne told reporters that the federal government’s decision also included consulting with allies. Asked if Canada is now preparing for Chinese retaliation, the industry minister said the right decision has been made.

However, former CSIS director Ward Elcock told CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Thursday that he suspects China will retaliate in some way.

“There is likely to be some kind of retaliation. What this will be is pretty hard to guess, but it could come in almost any form,” he said, noting moments in the past when China has punished Canada by imposing trade restrictions.

The announcement comes after China lifted a three-year ban on canola exports from two Canadian companies that had been in effect since March 2019 and was also seen as retaliation for Meng’s arrest, which China denied.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening in response to the decision, International Trade Minister Mary Ng and Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the government would continue to work to defend the interests of farmers, businesses and Canadian exporters “at home and abroad”. , including China “.

Archived by Joyce Napier and Sarah Turnbull of CTV News

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