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)

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

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Black Press file photo
Leduc RCMP investigate serious collision involving train

Leduc RCMP were called to a collision between a train and truck on Centre Street in New Sarepta.

Elder Muriel Lee. (Photo submitted)
Maskwacis Elder Mentoring Program connects Elders with young parents

By Chevi Rabbit For Black Press Media The Maskwacis Elders Mentoring Program,… Continue reading

Pipestone Flyer file photo
Nominations now open for 2021 general municipal election

Nominations for Wetaskiwin’s general municipal election are now open until Sept. 20, 2021.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

(Photo submitted)
Central Alberta researchers recognized for studies in agricultural sciences

Jessica Sperber of Ponoka and David MacTaggart of Lacombe awarded prestigious scholarship

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

A ground worker wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 unloads lobsters from a WestJet Airlines flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Trudeau teases stricter travel measures; Canadians flying to U.S. now need COVID test

Prime minister says measures need to not hurt imports and essential trade

(Photo submitted)
Ponoka RCMP receives new police puppy trainee

Detachment says goodbye to ‘Maja’ and welcomes ‘Neutron’

Art Kempf, originally from the Stettler area but now living in Lacombe, is pictured here with his late wife Lillian. Art’s 100th birthday is coming up on Feb. 22nd.
photo submitted
Former Stettler area resident Art Kempf will be celebrating a very special day next month

Kempf, now a Lacombe resident, marks his 100th birthday on Feb. 22nd

'The Coronavirus Isn't Scary' by Kristy Walker.
Sylvan Lake author pens first children’s book about COVID-19

“The Coronavirus Isn’t Scary” by Kristy Walker teaches children to take care of themselves

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie are serving sit-down customers in their Mirror diner to protest health restrictions that they say are unfair to restaurants and other small businesses. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Central Alberta restaurant owner defies health restrictions by serving diners

Whistle Stop Cafe owner says pandemic restrictions unfair to restaurants and small businesses

The Northwest Territories flag flies on a flagpole in Ottawa on July 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta man charged with threatening Northwest Territories public health officer

Police did reveal the nature of the threats, but said it was concerning

Most Read