The United States’ recent warning to Germany and other countries that they can expect less intelligence sharing if they allow Huawei into their 5G network is also a caution directed at Canada, says a veteran intelligence expert.
“I think the cautions offered by the U.S. ambassador to Germany and others concerning Huawei and the 5G network are the most immediate of warnings to Canada about our country’s prospects vis-à-vis Canada-U.S. relations,” said David Harris, a lawyer and 30-year veteran of national security and intelligence affairs. He is currently the director of the International Intelligence Program of INSIGNIS Strategic Research.
According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell issued a letter to German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier on March 8 telling him that the United States wouldn’t be able to maintain information sharing at the current level if Germany allowed the inclusion of Huawei or other Chinese equipment providers in the development of the country’s 5G network.
Germany has announced that it won’t ban Huawei from the country’s upcoming 5G auction. Instead, it has increased security requirements that vendors need to meet.
Responding to a question on the warning to Germany, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News Radio that the presence of Huawei and equipment by other Chinese vendors in a country’s network could mean that the Beijing regime would have access to data that the Americans don’t want them to have.
“When you talk about this happening in countries like Poland or Germany or the U.K., we’re very concerned about that, not only for American security because we have information stored, too, but for the security of their own people,” said Pompeo.
Pompeo also recently warned countries he visited on a European tour, including Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, against using technology from Huawei due to the company’s close links to the Chinese Communist Party.
Both Canada and the U.K. are part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that also includes the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. The latter three have already banned Huawei from their 5G networks.
The U.K.’s BT Group, one of the largest telecom companies in the country, has rejected using Huawei in its 5G network. However, the agency in charge of Britain’s cyber security has said it could manage risks from Huawei.
Ottawa has said it is still reviewing whether to allow Huawei to provide equipment for Canada’s emerging 5G networks, the next generation in internet technology.
Harris said given the threat to Canada’s interests, Ottawa should have banned Huawei a long time ago.
“Which interest are being met, or which interests might be deemed met, by the kind of delay that we have been witnessing?” he said.
“Some, apparently reflecting the Chinese government’s interests, assure us that Huawei technology must in some form or other be opened to technical review. However, most experts are completely unconvinced by this kind of assurance, particularly given the history of Beijing’s manipulation of technology in foreign lands.”
Harris adds that it’s reasonable to assume that the United States has a “full-court press” under way behind the scenes, warning Canadian officials at all levels about the risks of Huawei.
“Because China is developing as the major strategic foe of the United States, Canada, and other Western nations, the gravity of the situation is overt and dramatic.”
The Globe and Mail reported last year that according to a government source, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has directly told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the risks posed by Huawei. The Globe said Trudeau is reportedly alarmed about the national security threat the telecom giant poses.
U.S. senators from both the Democratic and Republican parties have also urged Trudeau to ban Huawei, with Democrat Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Republican Marco Rubio, a member of the committee, telling the prime minister in a letter that “there is ample evidence to suggest that no major Chinese company is independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party.”
The Epoch Times contacted Global Affairs Canada, Public Safety Canada, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service on whether Canada has received a similar letter as Germany has, warning about the impact on intelligence sharing if Huawei is not banned.
A spokesperson for the Communications Security Establishment, which is administered by the Department of National Defence, said in response that there’s no comment at this time. He added that Canada’s “security and intelligence agencies have a strong working relationship with our Five Eyes security and intelligence partners.”