Canada Bans China From Its 5G Networks

Wireless carriers in Canada won't be allowed to install Huawei equipment in their high-speed 5G networks, the Canadian government said Thursday19th May, joining allies in banning the giant Chinese technology company. 

The Canadian government says it now has banned Huawei and ZTE, two of China's biggest telecoms equipment makers from working on its 5G phone networks.

Canada has been saying for months that it intended to block China’s flagship telecommunications companies from accessing 5G networks. Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne says the move will improve Canada's mobile Internet services and "protect the safety and security of Canadians".

Huawei has played a key role in Canadian wireless networks. It won its first major North American project from BCE and Telus in 2008, a pivotal contract that helped cement the Chinese provider’s reputation as a global player that could compete on quality. The deal had paved the way for it to become a major supplier to Canada’s biggest telecom companies over the next decade.

The Canadian government's decision means that telecoms firms in the country will no longer be allowed to use equipment made by Huawei and ZTE. Companies that have already installed the equipment made by the Chinese manufacturers must now remove it. 

Huawei Canada said it was "disappointed" by the decision, which it said was "political". "This is an unfortunate political decision that has nothing to do with cyber security or any of the technologies in question," a statement said.

Several nations, including the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand have already put restrictions on the firms and the US has been urging Canada to do the same. In the USA, President Trump's administration took several actions to ban Huawei from participating in 5G networks in an effort to hobble the Shenzhen-based company.

The long-awaited announcement will be welcomed by President Biden’s administration, which has sought to steer countries away from Huawei. 

Canada's announcement was widely expected, as its allies had already barred Huawei and ZTE from their own high-speed networks. Speaking to reporters in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, Mr. Champagne said the decision came after "a full review by our security agencies and consultation with our closest allies... Let me be very clear: We will always protect the safety and security of Canadians and will take any actions necessary to safeguard our telecommunication infrastructure," he added.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Ottawa told the Reuters news agency that Beijing sees the security concerns raised by Canada as a "pretext for political manipulation". They also accused Canada of working with the US to suppress Chinese companies.

This action comes when data usage is soaring, due to growing popularity of video and music streaming services, which is pushing telecoms network operators to improve their telecommunications infrastructures.

Canada first announced a review of Huawei equipment in September 2018 and some of China's biggest technology and telecoms firms have been targeted in recent years by governments in the US and other Western nations over national security concerns. In November, US President Joe Biden signed legislation that stops companies judged to be security threats from receiving new telecoms equipment licenses in the country. It means equipment from Huawei, ZTE and three other Chinese companies are banned for use in US telecoms networks.

"China will comprehensively and seriously evaluate this incident and take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies," the Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a statement posted on its website.

CBC:      Reuters:        Bloomberg:      BBC:     Guardian:       WFUV:    Siasat:     FT:  

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