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'It's kind of too late now': U.S. says Huawei is a security threat, but telecoms giant plays key role in Canadian infrastructure

December 09, 2018 / CANADIAN PRESS
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Before the arrest of Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last weekend, the Chinese company wasn’t a household name in Canada — certainly not in the league of an Apple, Samsung or BlackBerry. However, the Chinese tech giant considered by several of Canada’s allies as a security threat has quietly established itself as an important provider of technology essential to Canada’s telecom infrastructure, a situation that is not likely to change any time soon. Huawei’s share of the Canadian smartphone market has been tiny — about 3.8 per cent, according to market research from IDC Canada — but outside of Canada the company is a juggernaut, overtaking Apple earlier this year in smartphone sales and employing more than 170,000 people around the world. Founded in 1987 by a former officer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the company has grown at an explosive rate over the past ten years and is projected to post sales of more than US$102 billion in 2018. For Canada’s telecom industry and the federal government in Ottawa, Huawei has long been known as an important equipment supplier — one that U.S. officials consider a significant threat to national security. That’s largely because Huawei is a major supplier of the equipment needed for wireless networks that could potentially be used to gather sensitive information for the Chinese government.