The Canadian government has announced that it has banned the use of Huawei and ZTE’s 5G network equipment, citing national security as the cause behind the move. Canada is the latest member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to make a move.
Canadian Telecom companies will be restricted from buying new 4G or 5G equipment from Huawei or ZTE by September this year and have to replace existing equipment by June 28th, 2024. 4G equipment currently in use must also be removed by the end of 2027.
The move follows similar orders from the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand, who have also restricted the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment citing national security.
The reason for all of this is China’s National Intelligence Law. According to critics, China can leverage this law to get tech companies based in the country to give up information to cooperate with the State’s intelligence work.
These restrictions are the fear that this law will be used to extract sensitive network data from the countries mentioned above that go through ZTE and Huawei equipment.
Huawei has defended itself by stating that the confusion has risen by a misreading of the Chinese law and is disputing the claim. The Chinese embassy in Canada has come to the company’s aid and stated that the country would be looking into the incident to protect the “legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies”.
While Canada has taken over three years since the announcement of the Chinese law to issue these restrictions, relations with China have been steadily declining over the past. In December 2018, Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on suspicion of violating US Sanctions. China retaliated by imprisoning two Canadian citizens, a former diplomat Michael Spavor and entrepreneur Michael Kovrig.
The situation was later defused after the US struck a deferred prosecution deal with Meng, allowing her to return to China, and the Canadians were released.
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