Picture: REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL
Picture: REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL

More than 75% of Canadians say that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government should ban China’s Huawei Technologies from taking part in the buildout of fifth-generation telecommunications networks, a new poll shows.

Opposition to Huawei’s participation in 5G is up from 53% in 2019, according to the poll by Nanos Research for the Globe and Mail released on Monday. Trudeau has not ruled out including Huawei and is expected to make a decision soon.

The surge in disapproval of Huawei reflects public outrage that has simmered since December 2018, when China imprisoned Canadian business executives Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig within days of Canada arresting Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on a US extradition request. The two Michaels, as they were known, were held in grim conditions for more than 1,000 days.

The two men were released last month immediately after Meng boarded a plane home to China after striking a deal with the US to resolve the criminal charges against her. Canada and its Western allies accused Beijing of “hostage diplomacy”, while China insisted the cases were unrelated.  

If Trudeau bans Huawei, that could further inflame relations between the two countries. Canada had delayed it for nearly three years as the fate of the two Michaels hung in the balance. The country’s closest allies, including the US, UK and Australia, have ordered outright bans of the company.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday that Canada “should provide a fair, just, open and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies”.

“Huawei’s 5G products have been recognised for their cutting-edge technology and security by the vast majority of operators in the world,” he said. “Canada should abide by an objective and just attitude, and independently make a decision in keeping with its own interests.”

A separate poll by Nanos Research for Bloomberg News showed that 36% of Canadians believe the relationship with China was permanently damaged by its jailing of the executives.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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