Canada announced Thursday that it’s banning Huawei from helping develop Canada's fifth-generation networks to protect national security - a decision a former Steveston-Richmond MP felt should have come much sooner.
“The decision has come too late. (Not banning Huawei) has hurt Canada’s reputation already,” said Kenny Chiu, former Steveston-Richmond MP.
Chiu said it has been more than three years since the Conservatives began pushing the Trudeau government to ban Huawei's involvement in Canada's 5G network. They cited privacy concerns, saying the Huawei technology would allow China to spy on Canadians.
“It all started with Andrew Sheer when he was a leader. After him, Erin O'Toole repeated the same message. It tells you how long this has been going on for,” said Chiu.
While Canada had been debating whether or not to allow Huawei to be involved in the country's 5G network, three of Canada’s partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance - which also consists of the United States, Britain and Australia - have already taken decisive steps to curb the use of Huawei gear in their countries' respective 5G networks.
New Zealand rejected a bid by a telecommunications company to use 5G technology from Huawei, citing national security concerns, although in 2020 it said it would not ban any provider outright.
“It’s damaging for Canada’s reputation compared with our allies. They (our allies) have already banned Huawei and moved on. It’s really unfortunate because Canada could have been playing a much more convincing leadership role internationally,” said Chiu.
Chiu also pointed out Huawei’s close ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) because the founder, Ren Zhengfei, served in the country’s military and became a member of the CCP before establishing Huawei.
“This is not an ordinary company, and telecommunications is one of the areas that China identified as a key national security arena. It does not align with Canadian values,” said Chiu.
Chiu said some Chinese-speaking residents might feel offended by the move because they mistakenly think that targeting Huawei is much like targeting their motherland or their race.
However, he said it takes time and effort to help them understand that banning a corporation from China has nothing to do with racism.
“Some have been brainwashed by the toxic propaganda for so long. It takes time for them to understand.”
-with files from Canadian Press