Former Hong Kong politician says Canada should be 'very worried' about including Huawei in 5G
OTTAWA -- As Canada continues to waffle on whether to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to join its next-generation 5G wireless network, former Hong Kong Democratic Party chairperson Emily Lau said Canada should be "very worried" about the company's potential inclusion.
Speaking to host Joyce Napier during an interview for CTV Power Play on Friday, Lau said she and her friends in the pro-democracy movement do not use Huawei technology due to security.
"We are very, very worried that once we use it we may be completely naked. Everything will be known to the Chinese government," said Lau.
Multiple security experts have also voiced their concerns about Huawei’s potential inclusion in Canada’s 5G network. During a Nov. 13 interview for CTV Power Play, former CSIS director Richard Fadden told host Don Martin that Huawei's 5G inclusion would present some "real national security concerns for Canada," adding that it shouldn’t be allowed in Canada's network.
"5G is different from 3G and 4G in the sense that it permeates the system. There's no core and periphery anymore," said Fadden.
He said that can make it difficult to keep a digital "fence" around Huawei to ensure it doesn't access sensitive information.
"The Chinese are very persistent," Fadden said, adding that just because a fence could work in the short term, it doesn't mean it would work forever.
It's the same concern that Lau expressed in her interview with Napier.
"I don't use that phone. And some of my friends, people in the pro-democracy movement, also do not use it because they are afraid that by using it, their own personal data would be available not just to the company, but would also be given access to the Chinese government and the intelligence people and we would be under complete surveillance," said Lau.
In a statement provided to CTVNews.ca on Friday, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair's office said it's carefully considering security concerns associated with 5G technology.
"While we cannot comment on specific companies, an examination of emerging 5G technology and the associated security and economic considerations is underway. This review includes the careful consideration of our allies' advice… We will ensure that our networks are kept secure and will take the appropriate decisions in due course," the statement said.
There are many considerations Canada must weigh in its decision on whether to include Huawei in its 5G network.
Should Canada opt to give Huawei access to its 5G networks, it could create tensions between Canada and its allies in the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance between Canada, the U.S., Australia, the U.K and New Zealand.
The U.S. has been campaigning hard to keep Huawei out of the Five Eyes 5G networks, for fear that Huawei could be controlled by the Chinese government and would share sensitive information with the country's government.
CTVNews.ca reached out to Huawei for comment on Friday, but did not hear back at the time of publishing. The company has previously denied allegations of Chinese governmental control over its work, as well as any allegations of espionage and sabotage.
There's also concern about the impact Canada's Huawei decision could have on the already icy state of Canada-China relations. The relationship between the two countries plummeted to a deep-freeze last December after Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The arrest was made in response to an extradition order from the United States. China then went on to detain two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. China formally arrested the two men on suspicion of gathering and stealing state secrets for "foreign forces," though at the time then-public safety minister Ralph Goodale said China provided no evidence to support the arrests.
China also briefly banned the import of Canadian beef and pork, blaming it on a banned animal feed additive they claim was found in a shipment of Canadian pork.
All these considerations make the decision to include Huawei in Canada's 5G network complicated. Just this week, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair was unable to provide a timeline of when Canadians can expect an answer.
"I don't have a specific timetable at this time," Blair told reporters on Wednesday.
"I think there are some very complex economic and security issues that need to be addressed and it will be a priority when we come back to government and when cabinet meets to examine those issues and to make that decision."