Canada PM Justin Trudeau refuses to commit to Huawei 5G decision timetable

The Chinese telecoms group has faced bans and heightened scrutiny in recent months. PHOTO: REUTERS

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - under pressure from the opposition to ban Huawei from the country's 5G networks - refused to say Tuesday (Nov 17) when he might make his decision, or if it would come before year's end.

The Conservatives filed a motion in the House of Commons seeking to force Mr Trudeau's Liberal government to announce its decision in the next 30 days, after years of review.

The Chinese telecoms group has faced bans and heightened scrutiny in recent months over fears that Beijing could use their technology to spy on foreign citizens.

Beijing has furiously protested and says its companies are being unfairly targeted for commercial reasons.

The dispute has taken on an added dimension as Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, is under house arrest in Canada and awaiting possible extradition to the US on fraud and conspiracy charges.

A few days later, China detained two Canadians on suspicion of espionage.

When asked about the possible 5G ban at a press conference, Mr Trudeau told reporters that he did not want to commit to a specific timetable.

"We will continue to trust our security agencies and experts when it comes to making this important decision on how to protect Canadians and our businesses in an increasingly interconnected world," he said.

"We have worked with our allies, we have consulted broadly, and I can tell you that the decision we will make will be based on the recommendations of our security agencies."

The United States, Australia, Britain, Japan and Sweden have blocked or placed restrictions on the use of Huawei technology in their 5G networks.

"When it comes to China, this government is out of step with our allies," Conservative leader Erin O'Toole told lawmakers.

Ms O'Toole accused Huawei of benefiting from "years of industrial espionage conducted by China" against former Canadian group Nortel.

Major Canadian mobile providers Bell, Rogers and Telus have said they will look to other groups - like Finland's Nokia or Sweden's Ericsson - for the deployment of their 5G networks.

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