It’s Long Past Time to Cancel Ties With Huawei

February 17, 2021 Updated: February 17, 2021

Commentary

One’s first reaction is stupefaction. This has to be a joke, right?

It is not. The Globe and Mail reports that the federal government is partnering with Huawei—yes, that Huawei—to “sponsor leading computer and electrical engineering research at Canadian universities.”

Of course, this threatens our national security and economic interests, but the pipeline to China’s bully regime—or rather the “partnership”—is going ahead anyway, at least for now.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), a federal agency, is collaborating with the Canadian arm of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to the tune of $4.8 million, according to the Globe. Top universities in the United States and Britain have shunned further research money from Huawei over intellectual-property and national-security concerns. But not Canada.

Did they not get the memo from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that communist China is a threat to our national security? That it works in myriad ways to subvert our democracy and channel technology home to its autocrats? I got it, and I’m not even in government anymore!

If you’re shocked (and annoyed) you’re in good company. Jim Balsillie, the former co-chief executive of Research In Motion and founder of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said he’s astonished that Ottawa would put up money to help Huawei obtain advanced technology that will benefit China.

“All these areas of research are for strategic digital infrastructure that serve as the nervous system for today’s economy and security,” Balsillie told the Globe. “It boggles the mind that in 2021 we continue to use taxpayer funds to advance China’s priorities at the expense of our economy, security, and Five Eyes partnership.”

The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance between Canada, United States, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Canada is the only country in the alliance that has not banned or placed restrictions on Huawei’s participation in its 5G mobile networks.

A Globe investigation three years ago revealed that Huawei had established a network of relationships with leading universities in Canada to create a steady pipeline of intellectual property that the company is using to underpin its market position in mobile technology.

The NSERC funding, we are told, is arms-length from the government, which cannot interfere. Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne says federal agencies, though arms-length, should be aware of national security concerns when allocating funding.

Jim Hinton, a leading Canadian intellectual property lawyer, told the Globe that “it doesn’t make any sense at all to be supporting the IT development of a company that our allies don’t consider somebody safe to work with.”

Hinton said the research projects tap into Canadian brainpower and give Huawei’s parent company in China an inside track on getting access to next-generation technology that will serve China’s national interests.

It’s not like any of this is new. There simply is no excuse. Were these Cold War times, with the Soviet Union interposed for China, the inanity (treachery?) of this nonsense would be plain to see. Even now, it should be.

In 2010, CSIS director Richard Fadden pointed out that there were provincial cabinet ministers and other elected officials in Canada who had fallen under Beijing’s general influence. At the time, several Liberal and NDP MPs demanded his resignation.

Two years ago, the annual report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) made no bones about it, naming China among the national security threats to Canada.

Russia is also a threat to our national security, as are other governments. But it was the novelty of China being singled out for once in a high-level federal government intelligence report that’s worth noticing, Terry Glavin noted in the National Post. “Usually, Ottawa lets China get away with anything.”

“China is known globally for its efforts to influence Chinese communities and the politics of other countries. The Chinese government has a number of official organizations that try to influence Chinese communities and politicians to adopt pro-China positions, most prominently the United Front Work Department,” the NSICOP report states, referring directly to Fadden’s whistleblowing in 2010.

The report also notes a 2017 warning from David Mulroney, a former ambassador to China, about Beijing’s influence-peddling efforts in Canada. To get what it wants, Beijing mobilizes student groups and diaspora groups to advance its interests, it said.

And don’t forget the two Michaels imprisoned on phony charges in China, OK?

So cancel the Huawei contract—and get with the ballgame.

Brad Bird is an award-winning reporter and editorial writer based in B.C.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.