Canada bans the usage of Huawei / ZTE equipment in its 5G networks, the government announced. Citing national security concerns in a statement, the Canadian government stated that suppliers might be forced to follow “extrajudicial directions from foreign governments” in ways that “conflict with Canadian laws or would be detrimental to Canadian interests.”
By September of this year, telcos will be prevented to purchase new 4G or 5G equipment from the businesses, and they will be required to remove any Huawei/ZTE-branded 5G equipment from their networks by June 28th, 2024. Moreover, equipment must also be eliminated from 4G networks by the end of 2027. The Canadian government in a statement stated, “The Government is committed to maximizing the social and economic benefits of 5G and access to telecommunications services writ large, but not at the expense of security.”
With this move, Canada becomes the latest member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to impose bans on Huawei/ZTE equipment in its communication networks. US telcos are spending billions of dollars removing and replacing Huawei equipment from their networks, while the United Kingdom banned Huawei’s equipment in 2020 and required its removal by 2027. For reasons of national security, Australia and New Zealand have likewise prohibited the use of their equipment.
China’s National Intelligence Law, which opponents fear may be used to force Chinese organisations and people to collaborate with state intelligence operations, is at the heart of these worries, according to CBC News. The danger is that this might be used to coerce Chinese tech companies like Huawei and ZTE to send over critical information from international networks to the Chinese government.
Huawei denies the allegation, claiming that it is based on a “misreading” of Chinese law. In reaction to Canada’s embargo, China’s Canadian embassy issued a statement saying, “China will comprehensively and seriously evaluate this incident and take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese firms.” Alykhan Avelshi, Vice President at Huawei Canada, termed the policy “an unfortunate political decision that has nothing to do with cyber security or any of the technologies in question.”
Canada took around three years to reach a judgement on the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment in its telecommunications networks, a period that Bloomberg notes coincided with worsening ties between Canada and China.