Advertisement

National security top priority in assessing Huawei’s role in Canada’s 5G network: minister

Click to play video: 'Could Huawei be compelled to spy for Chinese government?' Could Huawei be compelled to spy for Chinese government?
WATCH ABOVE: Could Huawei be compelled to spy for Chinese government? (Dec. 6) – Dec 6, 2018

OTTAWA – National security “comes first” in deciding whether to allow Huawei Technologies to take part in developing Canada’s 5G telecommunications network, Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says.

READ MORE: Stephen Harper urges Canada to ban Huawei from 5G network in Fox News appearance

Canada needs to be prudent and rely on the input of its intelligence services before ruling on whether the Chinese firm should be involved in the next-generation wireless communication system, Champagne said Monday during a roundtable interview with The Canadian Press.

“We understand that there are concerns and we need to properly assess whatever risk, or benefits, that there might be.”

Former security officials in Canada and two members of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have warned that Huawei’s participation could compromise the security of Canada and its closest allies. The thinking is that the Chinese company could build spying capabilities into equipment it supplies.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: U.S. wants Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to face fraud charges

Click to play video: 'U.S. wants Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to face fraud charges' U.S. wants Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to face fraud charges
U.S. wants Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to face fraud charges – Dec 7, 2018

The Opposition Conservatives regularly urge the Trudeau government in the House of Commons to leave Huawei out of Canada’s 5G infrastructure, which is expected to enable much faster connections and greater data capacity.

Three of Canada’s partners in the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing group – the United States, Australia and New Zealand – have forbidden the use of Huawei products in 5G network development in their countries.

READ MORE: Who has taken action against telecom giant Huawei and why Canada hasn’t

Champagne said listening to allies is part of the review process, but he has full faith in Canada’s intelligence officials to provide the best advice to government.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think prudence is the right approach when it comes to complex national security issues like that, when it comes to networks,” he said. “Canada is a welcoming place for investors, but clearly our national security always comes first.”

WATCH: New evidence released in the extradition case against Meng Wanzhou

Click to play video: 'New evidence released in the extradition case against Meng Wanzhou' New evidence released in the extradition case against Meng Wanzhou
New evidence released in the extradition case against Meng Wanzhou – Dec 9, 2018

Huawei stresses it is not a state-controlled company and denies engaging in intelligence work on behalf of any government.

Champagne isn’t discussing a deadline for the government review, saying the process is too important to rush.

READ MORE: China continues to attack Canada for ‘inhumane’ arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou

“I think Canadians would expect us to do the proper due diligence,” he said. “Whatever timeline that may imply, I think this is too serious to cut corners or to be expedient. This is about getting to the right outcome.”

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Attempted break-in at home owned by Huawei CFO

Click to play video: 'Attempted break-in at home owned by Huawei CFO' Attempted break-in at home owned by Huawei CFO
Attempted break-in at home owned by Huawei CFO – Dec 9, 2018

The recent arrest of a senior Huawei executive in Canada has only heightened tensions around the issue.

The United States is seeking to have Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, extradited on allegations that she tried to bypass American trade sanctions on Iran.

Sponsored content