TORONTO—More than eight in ten Canadians have a negative impression of the Chinese regime and more than half believe Canada was right to detain a high-level Huawei executive for possible extradition to the United States, according to a Nanos survey released on Jan. 9.
The survey also found that a majority of Canadians say they have a negative or somewhat negative impression of the Chinese regime and telecom giant Huawei, and over one in two think China poses a major national security threat to Canada.
Canada’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States sparked angry demands from the Chinese government for her immediate release, but Canadian authorities have said they are bound by their treaty obligations with the United States.
According to the survey, 56 percent of Canadians agree with this position and believe Meng’s arrest is primarily a justice issue, and that Canada is right to detain her for extradition to the United States on allegations of fraud relating to violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.
On the other hand, the survey showed that 29 percent of Canadians feel Meng’s arrest was politically and economically motivated and could damage Canada’s relations with China, which has threatened unspecified consequences for the arrest.
The detention of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor is widely seen by China analysts as retaliation for her arrest. They are charged on allegations of endangering China’s national security.
The survey also showed that nearly two in three Canadians have a somewhat negative or negative impression of Huawei. The company is the largest telecom equipment maker and second-largest smartphone maker in the world and is actively working to provide technology to 5G networks globally.
Huawei has come under increasing global scrutiny over cyber-intelligence concerns. It is seen as a potential security risk due its close ties with the Chinese communist regime. The company’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei is a former People’s Liberation Army member, and China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law requires the cooperation of corporations, organizations, and citizens to aid in Chinese intelligence work when required.
Canada is the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to not ban Huawei in some form, either through the government or through major telecommunication companies. The United States, Australia, and New Zealand have all banned Huawei from their 5G networks, while the UK’s BT Group has banned Huawei from its network. The UK and Canada are conducting security reviews of Huawei’s 5G technology, though the Canadian government has yet to say when the review will conclude.
The survey found that over 53 percent of respondents believe Canada should also ban Huawei from providing 5G technology to its networks. Eighteen percent, however, believe that countries banning Huawei is an overreaction, while 29 percent are unsure.
The Nanos poll was commissioned by The Globe and Mail and randomly surveyed 1,000 people across Canada using a hybrid telephone and online survey.