OTTAWA—A former Canadian envoy to China says today’s decision by Britain to grant Huawei partial access to its next−generation 5G network gives the Trudeau government an “easy out” to make the same choice.
And David Mulroney says that would be a bad decision that would amount to Ottawa caving to more than a year of Beijing bullying. Britain said on Jan. 28 it would attempt to limit “high−risk” vendors’ access to the new upgraded network.
“This is just the latest, albeit one of the most consequential, in a series of bad decisions and false compromises that western governments have made in respect to China,” said Mulroney, who served as the Canadian ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012.
“The result is that Chinese technology, and with its potential Chinese influence, is embedded ever more deeply in the governance structures of the West.”
The political pressure stems from China’s ongoing imprisonment of two Canadians, who were detained on spying charges more than a year ago after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.
Like Britain, Canada has been under pressure by the United States to ban the Chinese company as a threat to U.S. national security—a charge the company denies.
The Trump administration has said that China’s 2017 national intelligence law means communist leaders could force Huawei to conduct cyberespionage on behalf of the country’s communist government.
Ottawa is carrying out a comprehensive review of 5G that involves Public Safety Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment, Global Affairs, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
The government has said the safety and security of Canadians is its top concern.
Several Liberal cabinet ministers did not stop to answer questions about the British decision on their way into a meeting on Parliament Hill on Jan. 28.
Mulroney said what the British decision “does is provide an easy out for those in government who are seeking one” because they can now “pretend that we can ’manage’ the China risk” at the 5G level.
“What is surreal about this is that we have experienced more than a year of Chinese bullying and coercion, all because of legal action taken by Canada against a Huawei executive,” Mulroney said.
“Have we learned nothing?”
Cong Peiwu, China’s ambassador to Canada, has dismissed the notion that Huawei could compromise users’ security as a “groundless accusation.”
Late last year, he said he hoped Canada would provide “a fair, just and non−discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies, including Huawei.”