The Huawei logo displayed at the main office of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Poland’s Internal Security Agency has charged a Chinese manager at Huawei in Poland and one of its own former officers with espionage against Poland on behalf of China. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Trump’s national security adviser says Canada should reject Huawei telecom bid

Huawei has stressed it is not a state-controlled enterprise

Donald Trump’s national security adviser has issued a dire warning to Canada about Chinese telecom giant Huawei, saying Ottawa should reject the company’s plan to deploy its 5G network because the technology would be used as a “Trojan horse” to undermine national security.

“When they get Huawei into Canada … they’re going to know every health record, every banking record, every social media post — they’re going to know everything about every single Canadian,” Robert O’Brien said at an international security conference in Halifax.

“What the Chinese are doing makes Facebook and Google look like child’s play, as far as collecting information on folks.”

He said the Chinese state could use data scraped from its 5G mobile network to “micro-target” Canadians with personalized texts aimed at undermining elections.

The national security adviser, who was appointed to the job in September, says the fallout from such an intrusion into personal data would have an impact on Canada’s participation in the Five Eyes alliance, which includes the intelligence agencies in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“The Huawei Trojan horse is frightening, it’s terrifying,” O’Brien said on the first full day of the Halifax Security Forum, which has attracted more than 300 delegates from government, the military and the academic community.

“I find it amazing that our allies and friends in other liberal democracies would allow Huawei in … I’m surprised that there’s even a debate out there.”

Last Friday, Beijing’s new representative in Canada dismissed the notion Huawei could compromise the security of 5G users by installing “back-door” channels in mobile devices.

Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu said that was a “groundless accusation.”

“So we do hope the Canadian side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies, including Huawei,” he told reporters during a roundtable discussion in Ottawa.

ALSO READ: Border officers couldn’t have legally arrested Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou, Crown says

For its part, Huawei has stressed it is not a state-controlled enterprise and that it would never spy on behalf of China or any other country.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan later issued a statement saying the security of Canadians remains Ottawa’s No. 1 priority.

“We have been extremely mindful in protecting our current 4G technology and the decisions that we make regarding 5G will make sure that these systems are as strong as our current system, if not stronger,” Sajjan said.

“We have the appropriate process and regulations in place to protect our infrastructure and Canadians. We are going to take our time so that we can appropriately examine all potential threats.”

At the Halifax conference, which has attracted delegates from 70 democratic countries, O’Brien wasn’t the only U.S. official taking aim at Huawei.

Earlier in the day, Republican Senator James Risch, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, told reporters that Canada should think twice before getting involved with a company that he said is little more than an arm of the Chinese Communist party.

“When any information goes to Huawei, the Chinese Communist party will have access to that information,” said Risch, who is from Idaho.

“Is it worth it, to save a bit of money by buying a cheaper system? My conclusion is a resounding no. I would hope that the Canadian government would reach the same conclusion.”

U.S. Senator Angus King from Maine, who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, said if Canada allows Huawei to deploy its network, “it would make it very difficult to have full intelligence sharing … with a partner who has installed a direct line to Beijing.”

Relations between Canada and China have been difficult since last December, when Canadian authorities took Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou into custody over American allegations the company violated sanctions on Iran.

Wenzhou’s extradition case is before a Canadian court. She remains under house arrest in Vancouver.

Soon after she was arrested, Beijing detained two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, on allegations of undermining China’s national security.

The arrests are widely seen in Canada as retaliation for the detention of Meng.

O’Brien said the U.S. administration feels the same way.

He said Canada shouldn’t consider approving a Huawei network until China releases Spavor and Kovrig.

“The way that they’re treating the two Michaels is not right,” O’Brien said. “It’s a wrongful detention in order to gain leverage.”

On Friday, Cong demanded Meng’s release, and the ambassador said her arrest and pending extradition to the U.S. amount to arbitrary detention.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Subsea fibre optics running from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal Communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13.
Subsea fibre optics running from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and and then south to Vancouver will improve high-speed internet connection options for Coastal communities, CityWest said on Oct. 13. (Black Press Media)
CityWest to refresh subsea fibre optics project

Fibre optics project to run cable from north of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii then south to Vancouver

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read