The Huawei logo displayed at the main office of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Poland’s Internal Security Agency has charged a Chinese manager at Huawei in Poland and one of its own former officers with espionage against Poland on behalf of China. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Trump’s national security adviser says Canada should reject Huawei telecom bid

Huawei has stressed it is not a state-controlled enterprise

Donald Trump’s national security adviser has issued a dire warning to Canada about Chinese telecom giant Huawei, saying Ottawa should reject the company’s plan to deploy its 5G network because the technology would be used as a “Trojan horse” to undermine national security.

“When they get Huawei into Canada … they’re going to know every health record, every banking record, every social media post — they’re going to know everything about every single Canadian,” Robert O’Brien said at an international security conference in Halifax.

“What the Chinese are doing makes Facebook and Google look like child’s play, as far as collecting information on folks.”

He said the Chinese state could use data scraped from its 5G mobile network to “micro-target” Canadians with personalized texts aimed at undermining elections.

The national security adviser, who was appointed to the job in September, says the fallout from such an intrusion into personal data would have an impact on Canada’s participation in the Five Eyes alliance, which includes the intelligence agencies in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The Huawei Trojan horse is frightening, it’s terrifying,” O’Brien said on the first full day of the Halifax Security Forum, which has attracted more than 300 delegates from government, the military and the academic community.

“I find it amazing that our allies and friends in other liberal democracies would allow Huawei in … I’m surprised that there’s even a debate out there.”

Last Friday, Beijing’s new representative in Canada dismissed the notion Huawei could compromise the security of 5G users by installing “back-door” channels in mobile devices.

Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu said that was a “groundless accusation.”

“So we do hope the Canadian side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies, including Huawei,” he told reporters during a roundtable discussion in Ottawa.

ALSO READ: Border officers couldn’t have legally arrested Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou, Crown says

For its part, Huawei has stressed it is not a state-controlled enterprise and that it would never spy on behalf of China or any other country.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan later issued a statement saying the security of Canadians remains Ottawa’s No. 1 priority.

“We have been extremely mindful in protecting our current 4G technology and the decisions that we make regarding 5G will make sure that these systems are as strong as our current system, if not stronger,” Sajjan said.

“We have the appropriate process and regulations in place to protect our infrastructure and Canadians. We are going to take our time so that we can appropriately examine all potential threats.”

At the Halifax conference, which has attracted delegates from 70 democratic countries, O’Brien wasn’t the only U.S. official taking aim at Huawei.

Earlier in the day, Republican Senator James Risch, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, told reporters that Canada should think twice before getting involved with a company that he said is little more than an arm of the Chinese Communist party.

“When any information goes to Huawei, the Chinese Communist party will have access to that information,” said Risch, who is from Idaho.

“Is it worth it, to save a bit of money by buying a cheaper system? My conclusion is a resounding no. I would hope that the Canadian government would reach the same conclusion.”

U.S. Senator Angus King from Maine, who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, said if Canada allows Huawei to deploy its network, “it would make it very difficult to have full intelligence sharing … with a partner who has installed a direct line to Beijing.”

Relations between Canada and China have been difficult since last December, when Canadian authorities took Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou into custody over American allegations the company violated sanctions on Iran.

Wenzhou’s extradition case is before a Canadian court. She remains under house arrest in Vancouver.

Soon after she was arrested, Beijing detained two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, on allegations of undermining China’s national security.

The arrests are widely seen in Canada as retaliation for the detention of Meng.

O’Brien said the U.S. administration feels the same way.

He said Canada shouldn’t consider approving a Huawei network until China releases Spavor and Kovrig.

“The way that they’re treating the two Michaels is not right,” O’Brien said. “It’s a wrongful detention in order to gain leverage.”

On Friday, Cong demanded Meng’s release, and the ambassador said her arrest and pending extradition to the U.S. amount to arbitrary detention.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Public warned to stay away from algae bloom near Herald Park in Shuswap Lake

Interior Health states that people, pets should not drink the water in the area or touch the algae

South Shuswap residents say Balmoral Road intersection improvements could be better

Reliance on frontage roads along Trans-Canada Highway and narrow underpasses criticized

Sign of spring: Salmon Arm’s steep Shoemaker Hill opens to traffic

Opening delayed by snow and freezing temperatures

20th anniversary of Shuswap’s Salty Dog Enduro postponed to 2021

Organizers follow direction from provincial/national bodies to cancel May event

West Kelowna man charged in relation to cannabis grow robbery in Sicamous

Two suspects remain at large; police believe they left the robbery scene in a white hatchback

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

COVID-19: No more international flights at Kelowna International Airport

All international flights at YLW have been suspended, airport to operate just nine flights a day

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

Serious assault leaves Osoyoos woman in critical condition: RCMP

A 60-year-old Osoyoos woman suffers life threatening injuries following assault inside home

COVID-19: Vernon pet grooming store closed temporarily after symptoms shown

Wet Spot Grooming and Pet Care to announce return Easter Monday

Most Read