Wednesday, 24 October 2018 08:40

Canada snubs US bid to push it to ban Huawei from 5G Featured

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Canada snubs US bid to push it to ban Huawei from 5G Pixabay

Canada has ignored an attempt by two US politicians to push it to omit Chinese telecommunications equipment supplier Huawei Technologies from the country's 5G networks, deciding instead to continue using the company's products, albeit under existing conditions.

These conditions stipulate that the company cannot bid on federal contracts, cannot manage equipment from abroad, and cannot supply gear for the countrys core networks.

US senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner, both members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this month, asking him to follow the lead of the US and Australia and ban Huawei from any role in Canada's 5G networks.

The Globe and Mail  reported that the Canadian signals intelligence agency that protects telcos, the Communications Security Establishment, had told Trudeau and MPs that Canada had a robust system of testing facilities for Huawei equipment and software to prevent any security snafus.

The new head of the CSE, Scott Jones, had indicated that these facilities were much better than those which many of Canada's allies had.

Huawei has a facility in the UK at which British security agencies can evaluate the company's technology. A similar facility is to be opened in Germany on 16 November, ahead of that country's 5G mobile spectrum auction.

Trudeau told parliament: "First of all, we make our decisions based on evidence, based on the recommendations of our extraordinarily effective Communications Security Establishment. We listen to them.

"It’s very easy in discussions like this to let politics slip into decisions and positioning like that, and as I’ve been saying for more than three years, we try to base our decisions on evidence and data. And that means listening to the experts and trusting them."

The opposition Conservative Party had called on the government to follow the lead of the US and Australia and ban Huawei from Canada's 5G networks.

Kim Richard Nossal, an analyst with the Australian think-tank The Lowy Institute, said Trudeau's decision may have also been partly influenced by the way the Americans had sought to constrain Ottawa's independence in negotiating trade deals.

In the recently renegotiated NAFTA trade deal, one clause specified that parties would have to inform each other if they planned to negotiate any free-trade deals with “any non-market country,” and also said they could opt out of the new deal if any other party signed a deal with a non-market country.

Nossal said this had been widely reported in Canada as a bid to try and prevent Canada from striking a free-trade deal with China.

"The Huawei decision thus had a number of important political purposes," he said.

"First, taking a stance in sharp opposition to the US (which has, like Australia, banned Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications firms from involvement in 5G networks) allowed Trudeau to paint his government as both willing and able to stand up to [US President Donald] Trump, who is widely despised in Canada for a variety of reasons, including his ad hominem attacks on both Trudeau himself and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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