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The main Huawei UK office in Reading, west London. Photo: Financial Post

Canadian authorities announced on Thursday that the federal government will bar Chinese telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE from the country’s 5G networks because they pose severe national security and privacy concerns.

“The government of Canada is ensuring the long term safety of our telecommunications infrastructure. As part of that, the government intends to prohibit the inclusion of Huawei and ZTE products and services in Canada’s telecommunications systems,” stated Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne.

“As a result, telecommunications companies that operate in Canada would no longer be permitted to make use of designated equipment or services provided by Huawei and ZTE. As well, companies that already use this equipment installed in their networks would be required to cease its use and remove it.”

Officials have cited serious concerns the Chinese firms could be forced to obey extrajudicial directions from foreign governments that could violate Canadian laws or damage Canadian interests and said the restrictions on the companies were part of a new telecommunications security framework.

The Canadian government will ban telecom firms from using new 4G or 5G gear from both Huawei and ZTE from September this year. Existing 5G equipment from the two firms will be phased out by June 28, 2024.

Meanwhile, people using 4G equipment from the two Chinese companies will need to switch to alternatives by 2027.

Canada has also cited US plans to restrict semiconductor supplies to ZTE and Huawei.

“Canada believes that evolving international supply chain dynamics have further implications due to growing restrictions on access to certain components,” stated officials.

“Shifts from well-known inputs to others have implications for Canada’s ability to conduct assurance testing. This changing supply chain environment toward other components will make it increasingly difficult for Canada to maintain a high level of assurance testing for certain network equipment from a number of potential suppliers.”

The new rules come three years after the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, whose court case developed into a diplomatic face-off between the West and Communist China.

Canada held Ms Meng in custody until she negotiated her release with US prosecutors in September 2021.