WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. envoy on Monday pressed Canada about Ottawa’s forthcoming decision on whether to allow China’s Huawei Technologies to take part in its 5G network, a move Washington opposes, officials said.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump last year warned Canada it could lose access to top secret intelligence unless it blocked Huawei 5G technology.
Robert Blair, Trump’s special representative for international telecoms policy, discussed the “importance of a secure and reliable next-generation telecommunications infrastructure” and the defense partnership between the United States and Canada, the U.S. embassy said in a statement.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, two U.S. sources said Blair planned to underscore that a decision by Canada to include Huawei could jeopardize its access to U.S. intelligence.
The White House has accused Huawei of being able to spy on customers and maintaining close ties to the Chinese government, allegations Huawei denies.
Washington’s campaign to thwart the top producer of telecoms equipment was hit by Britain’s plans to give Huawei a limited role in its next generation wireless network.
One of the cabinet members who will decide the fate of Huawei 5G equipment in Canada, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, on Monday told legislators that “there is a very robust and important discussion going on between ourselves and our allies” about Huawei.
Ottawa sources directly familiar with the government’s deliberations say a decision is still many months away.
A spokesman for Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday’s meeting was “a part of regular and ongoing conversations with the United States regarding national security and continental telecommunications”.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who will also have a say in Ottawa’s decision, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp last Friday that Canada “won’t get bullied by any other jurisdiction” over the decision.
Asked whether he was referring to the Trump administration, he said “maybe that was the wrong choice of words ... we won’t be influenced by other jurisdictions”.
Reporting by Alexandra Alper in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall