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Friday, January 21, 2022

Liberal ruling on Huawei pending, and reports of alleged Telecom Giant spy activities on the rise

News analysis

More than two months have passed since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would announce “in the coming weeks” its decision on whether to ban Chinese telecom giant Huawei from accessing Canada’s 5G network. But as Ottawa hesitates to make a decision, reports of suspected Huawei spy activities continue to mount.

Margaret McQuay-Johnston, a senior fellow at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, says the decision to ban Huawei is clear given “overwhelming evidence” that Huawei equipment was used to spy on a Chinese communist. Party (CCP) around the world.

To date, Canada remains the only country in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance that has not made a decision on Huawei and 5G. The other four countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand – have either banned or took steps to ban Huawei from their 5G networks, citing the company’s ties to Beijing.

“The Canadian government has no choice but to ban it here,” McQueig-Johnston told The Epoch Times.

McQueig-Johnston, who was vice president of the China-Canada Friendship Society from 2014 to 2016, noted that Chinese public and private enterprises are often used as the CCP’s data collectors and are effectively required by law to do so.

“[Chinese law] demands … that any Chinese company spy on behalf of Chinese agencies, if necessary, and keep this spy secret a secret, ”she said.

Warnings about Huawei’s threats to national security have long been voiced by the intelligence community.

The latest exposure comes from a Washington Post report based on a review of over 100 Huawei marketing presentations. The report notes that many of these presentations were marked “confidential,” and the slides cover surveillance functions specific to police or government agencies, suggesting that “the intended audience could be Chinese government agencies.”

Topics included “identifying people by voice, tracking politicians of interest, managing ideological reeducation and prisoner work schedules, and helping retailers track shoppers using facial recognition.”

Epoch Times Photos
A display for facial recognition and artificial intelligence on monitors at the Huawei Bantian campus in Shenzhen, China, April 26, 2019 (Getty Images / Kevin Fryer)

According to the Post, out of more than 3,000 PowerPoint slides downloaded from Huawei’s public website before the slides were deleted last year, five were stand out. The slides denote a “video surveillance solution” between Huawei and another company with dates between 2016 and 2018.

Companies involved include the Chinese artificial intelligence company iFlytek Co. and facial recognition company DeepGlint, also known as Beijing Geling Shentong Information Technology Co. Ltd. Both came under US Department of Commerce sanctions in October 2019 and July this year, respectively, for human rights. violations and abuses against Uighurs, Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

As indicated in the 2018 presentation, the technology jointly developed by iFlytek and Huawei can identify people by first receiving a “target voice sound” and then comparing their voice to a large database of recorded “voice fingerprints,” according to The Post. … The slides do not explicitly detail how the “target” voice sound is obtained, but another slide lists sounds from “phone records” and “smartphone apps” as input.

In another marketing presentation, Huawei and DeepGlint’s One Person, One File facial recognition system was touted as contributing to public safety in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and has been in use there since 2017 – a time period coinciding with the massive detentions of Uyghurs in region.

Three other projects included monitoring prisons and detention centers, tracking politicians and criminals, and monitoring employees and tracing customers in retail stores.

In a statement to the Post, Huawei denied any details about the projects mentioned in the presentations.

Epoch Times Photos
Epoch Times Photos
The gateway of what is officially known as a vocational training center under construction in Dabancheng, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, September 4, 2018 (Reuters / Thomas Peter / File Photo)

China’s envoy poses a threat

In a videoconference on December 10, Chinese Ambassador to Canada Kong Peiu said Canada would “pay the price” if the federal government decides to ban Huawei’s technology from the country’s 5G network.

“Of course they will pay the price for their wrong actions and actions,” he told a small group of Canadian and Chinese reporters.

Kong also said that Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were captured in China in retaliation for the arrest in Canada of Huawei chief executive Meng Wanzhou, “confessed to their crimes” before being released from prison in September.

“The information reviewed by the Chinese authorities shows that the evidence for the crimes is undeniable,” he said.

Kovrig and Spavor were arbitrarily detained in Chinese prisons for over 1,000 days after Meng was arrested at the US extradition request in Vancouver in December 2018.

McQueig-Johnston says Kovrig and Spavor “have nothing to confess.”

“They are completely innocent and have been held hostage by the Chinese state for almost three years,” she said. “[Chinese leader] Xi Jinping must confess and apologize to two innocent Canadians. “

Former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney says Kong’s threats are a reminder to stay away from the Chinese regime.

Read Also:  Beijing annoyed with US bill to counter the threat from China

“Beijing wants us to be fixated on possible retaliation, which is a classic CCP psychological tactic that is best ignored. It’s harder to ignore Kong’s verbal abuse against two innocent Canadians. But his abhorrent behavior reminds us why we need to distance ourselves from the influence / control of the PRC, ”he said. said on Twitter on December 11.

Senator Leo Husakos
Senator Leo Husakos
Senator Leo Husakos pictured from the archive. (Canadian Press / Adrian Wilde)

Conservative Senator Leo Husakos says Kong is acting in bad faith as ambassador to Canada.

“This same ambassador has made unacceptable remarks since his arrival at his current position, including threats to parliamentarians,” he told The Epoch Times.

“I have expressed my concerns about him in the past and have asked the government if he was summoned by Global Affairs to discuss what is acceptable and what is unacceptable during his stay here as a guest from Canada.”

Regarding Trudeau’s comment that he will soon make a decision on Huawei, Husakos is not very optimistic.

“We have heard this for years, including during the recent elections, in which we heard that we would find out about their decision within a few weeks,” he said.

When asked about comments on the Huawei issue, Public Safety Canada said the government is looking into potential companies that have the opportunity to participate in the country’s 5G network.

“While we cannot comment on specific companies, there is currently a study on new 5G technologies and related security and economic considerations. This review includes a careful consideration of the recommendations of our allies, ”said the spokesman. Magali Deussing said in an email

Deussing said Public Safety Canada is working on the issue with three other government departments, as well as the Communications Security Administration and the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.

“We will ensure the security of our networks and take appropriate decisions in due course,” the spokesman said.

Husakos says Canada should take a tougher stance on the CCP as a whole, adding that the federal government’s recent announcement of joining allies in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is not enough.

“We shouldn’t send our athletes there at all, both because of our moral and legal objections to the human rights violations committed by the Chinese communist regime, and because of the very real threat to the safety of our athletes, as evidenced by the evidence. kidnapping two Michaels, ”he said.

McQueig-Johnston says Beijing cannot be trusted.

“Canada should not seek a new direction for its China policy as China has stated that it is no longer a reliable partner for Canada,” she said. “We need to turn around to develop deeper relationships with other countries in the Indo-Pacific.”

Surveillance history

McQueig-Johnston says the government should also take into account reports of Huawei’s alleged spy activities against various government officials when deciding to ban the company from using Canada’s 5G network.

“[Huawei] was used to spy on calls from the Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Chinese activists in the Netherlands, ”she said.

In the case of the Netherlands, Dutch fixed-line and mobile phone company KPN, which has been using Huawei technology since 2009, was previously alerted to spy activities by the Dutch domestic intelligence service AIVD.

A 2010 report provided by KPN confirmed Huawei’s surveillance activities, such as eavesdropping on Dutch mobile network customers including the Prime Minister and government officials, obtaining personal contacts from mobile devices, and the ability to shut down the entire network.

The report was kept under wraps until the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant published a revealing article about Huawei in April.

Epoch Times Photos
Epoch Times Photos
The KPN logo can be seen at its headquarters in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on January 30, 2019 (Piroschka van de Wouw / Reuters)

In 2019, two Huawei employees were charged with spying for Beijing on separate occasions in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Polish authorities arrested Wang Weijing, the company’s former sales director on January 11, 2019, on charges that his work with Huawei was a cover for spying for the CCP. The next day, Huawei fired Wang, stating that his “alleged actions had nothing to do with the company.”

In July 2019, two former Huawei employees in the Czech Republic told Czech Public Radio that they were collecting confidential customer information and passing it on to the Chinese authorities. The data was entered into an internal database operated by Huawei headquarters in China, in which the target customers were government officials, mainly department directors or deputy ministers, who were then invited to a conference or trip to China.

Huawei has repeatedly denied working with the Chinese regime.

The Epoch Times requested comment from Global Affairs, which responded that it would rely on a response from Public Safety Canada. Sport Canada did not respond to a request for comment.

The Canadian press, Reuters, Donna Ho and Kelly Song contributed to this report.

Isaac Theo

To follow

Isaac Teo is a Toronto-based correspondent for the Epoch Times.

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