Feds tell Huawei to hit the highway

Canada is set to ban Chinese telecom-hardware maker Huawei from participating in the build-out of the country’s 5G infrastructure, joining several allies, including the US. 

Catch up: The US, UK, and Australia have already all blocked Huawei from supplying hardware for their 5G networks over concerns that the company—which has close ties to the Chinese government—could use its equipment to pass along sensitive data to China’s intelligence services (which Huawei denies).

  • Canada put off making a call on Huawei for years while its relationship with China worsened, driven in part by China’s imprisonment of the Two Michaels—a move widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

Big picture: The decision was not a surprise. Both President Trump and Biden have pressured Canada to keep Huawei out of 5G, and it was never likely that the government would endanger Canada’s place in the US-led Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partnership (not to be confused with Five Guys, which is just a decent spot for a burger).

  • Canada’s telcos reportedly spent over $700 million buying equipment from Huawei between 2018 and 2020 while the government deliberated over the ban—what will happen to that equipment now is not yet clear, though more recently, Telus and Bell both stopped buying from Huawei in anticipation of restrictions.

Bottom line: Booting Huawei from our 5G network is just the latest chapter in the messy separation of Western economies from China, a decoupling that shows no sign of stopping amid growing political and security tensions.