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As Huawei’s Influence in Canada Grows, Some Fear Spying. Others Just Want Fast Internet.


MONTREAL — In recent weeks, some viewers of “Hockey Night in Canada” have been jolted by the sight of a distinctive red chrysanthemum logo conspicuously displayed during the broadcast of a sports program as quintessentially Canadian as the national game itself.

It is the logo for Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant whose chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, is out on bail in Vancouver, with a GPS tracking device around her ankle, as she awaits possible extradition to the United States to face fraud charges.

Advertising on “Hockey Night” is just one example of the expanding footprint of Huawei in Canada, where it has invested a total of $500 million in research and development, including into 5G technology at leading Canadian universities.

It also has research facilities in Ottawa, Waterloo, Montreal, and Vancouver; is providing high-speed internet to remote areas of the country; and employs about 1,100 people in Canada.

Christian Chua, president of research at Huawei Canada, told reporters last week at the news conference that Huawei shared its intellectual property with the Canadian universities with which it partnered.

Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert at the University of Ottawa, noted that universities were typically not vigilant when it came to security issues.

He added, however, that the current “scaremongering” about Huawei was misplaced given that both China and Huawei had too much to lose if they spied on the West and lost access to those markets.

Nevertheless, concerns that Huawei’s products and infrastructure, including smartphones or cellular base stations, could be used by Chinese intelligence services have been swirling on some Canadian college campuses, including McGill University in Montreal.

In December, Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials briefed about 15 researchers there who receive funding from Huawei about national security risks.

According to Vincent Allaire, a spokesman for McGill, the spy agency warned the researchers, among other things, that the technology they were working on in partnership with Huawei included “dual-use technology” that could potentially be used for military purposes.

Officials at other universities disputed there were any major risks involved in the research partnerships.



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