Canada’s Telus says partner Huawei is ‘reliable’: reports

The US-China tension over Huawei is leaving telecommunications companies around the world at a crossroad, but one spoke out last week. Telus, one of Canada’s largest phone companies showed support for its Chinese partner despite a global backlash against Huawei over cybersecurity threats.

“Clearly, Huawei remains a viable and reliable participant in the Canadian telecommunications space, bolstered by globally leading innovation, comprehensive security measures, and new software upgrades,” said an internal memo signed by a Telus executive that The Globe and Mail obtained.

The Vancouver-based firm is among a handful of Canadian companies that could potentially leverage the Shenzhen-based company to build out 5G systems, the technology that speeds up not just mobile connection but more crucially powers emerging fields like low-latency autonomous driving and 8K video streaming. TechCrunch has contacted Telus for comments and will update the article when more information becomes available.

The United States has long worried that China’s telecom equipment makers could be beholden to Beijing and thus pose espionage risks. As fears heighten, President Donald Trump is reportedly mulling a boycott of Huawei and ZTE this year, according to Reuters. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that US federal prosecutors may bring criminal charges against Huawei for stealing trade secrets.

Australia and New Zealand have both blocked local providers from using Huawei components. The United Kingdom has not officially banned Huawei but its authorities have come under pressure to take sides soon.

Canada, which is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network alongside Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US, is still conducting a security review ahead of its 5G rollout but has been urged by neighboring US to steer clear of Huawei in building the next-gen tech.

China has hit back at spy claims against its tech crown jewel over the past months. Last week, its ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye warned that blocking the world’s largest telecom equipment maker may yield repercussions.

“I always have concerns that Canada may make the same decision as the US, Australia and New Zealand did. And I believe such decisions are not fair because their accusations are groundless,” Lu said at a press conference. “As for the consequences of banning Huawei from 5G network, I am not sure yet what kind of consequences will be, but I surely believe there will be consequences.”

Last week also saw Huawei chief executive officer Ren Zhengfei appear in a rare interview with international media. At the roundtable, he denied security charges against the firm he founded in 1987 and cautioned the exclusion of Chinese firms may delay plans in the US to deliver ultra-high-speed networks to rural populations — including to the rich.

“If Huawei is not involved in this, these districts may have to pay very high prices in order to enjoy that level of experience,” argued Ren. “Those countries may voluntarily approach Huawei and ask Huawei to sell them 5G products rather than banning Huawei from selling 5G systems.”

The Huawei controversy comes as the US and China are locked in a trade war that’s sending reverberations across countries that rely on the US for security protection and China for investment and increasingly skilled — not just cheap — labor.

Canada got caught between the feuding giants after it arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who’s also Ren’s daughter, at the request of US authorities. The White House is now facing a deadline at the end of January to extradite Meng. Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Trump are urging Beijing to release two Canadian citizens who Beijing detained following Meng’s arrest.

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Saudi Teen Who Fled Family and Pleaded for Help on Twitter Granted Asylum in Canada

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, right, walks with an unidentified companion in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.
Photo: Sakchai Lalit (AP)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed that Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, the 18-year-old Saudi woman who escaped her family and pleaded for protection on social media, has been granted asylum in Canada.

“The [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] has made a request of Canada that we accept Ms. Alqunun as a refugee, and we have accepted the UN’s request that we grant her asylum,” Trudeau said Friday. “That is something that we are pleased to do because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights, stand up for women’s rights around the world.”

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Alqunun reportedly fled her family—who she’s accused of beating her and threatening to kill her—while they were vacationing in Kuwait, at which time she boarded a plane to Thailand with the goal of reaching Australia. The New York Times reported last week that upon landing in Thailand, Alqunun was met by authorities who confiscated her passport and informed her that she needed to return to her family in Saudi Arabia. Alqunun ultimately barricaded herself inside of a hotel at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, where she’s been for roughly a week.

Alqunun’s plight gained widespread media attention after she began tweeting her story in early January. The young woman repeatedly claimed that she would face torture or even death at the hands of her family should she be forced to return. Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that Saudi women who attempt to escape their families “can face severe violence from relatives, deprivation of liberty, and other serious harm if returned against their will.”

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Human rights activists have pointed to Alqunun’s story as underscoring the dangers often faced by women in Saudi Arabia, as well as the extraordinary lengths to which many must go to escape dire circumstances. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in a statement said that Alqunun’s story provided “a glimpse into the precarious situation of millions of refugees worldwide.”

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, tweeted Friday that Alqunun’s triumph was “a victory for everyone who cares about respecting and promoting women’s rights.” Alqunun, who has amassed a Twitter following of 139,000, thanked supporters in a tweet for “supporting me and [saving] my life.”

[Washington Post]

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The game is afoot with Justin Trudeau's delightful Halloween costume

Justin Trudeau’s family is at it again with another year of delightful Halloween costumes.

Canada’s prime minister dressed up as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved character Sherlock Holmes for the spooky holiday, donning the fictional detective’s signature deerstalker hat, pipe, and clue-hunting magnifying glass.

But Trudeau wasn’t alone in his costumed festivities, with his whole family joining in:

Trudeau joined his son Hadrien to go trick-or-treating at Rideau Hall, the home of the Canadian governor general, HuffPost reports. 

The prime minister’s proven quite the Halloween enthusiast over the years, dressing up as a rather self-aware Clark Kent/Superman in 2017, pairing with Hadrian as the Pilot and the Little Prince from the classic French tale in 2016, and as Han Solo in his get-up from The Empire Strikes Back in 2015.

While it’s likely not the reason for Trudeau’s choice of costume, the prime minister dressing up as the pipe-touting Holmes seemed a timely moment to folks on Twitter, as Canada became the second country to legalize marijuana on Oct. 18. 

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U.S. lawmakers warn Canada to keep Huawei out of its 5G plans

In a letter addressed to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio make a very public case that Canada should leave Chinese tech and telecom giant Huawei out of its plans to build a next-generation mobile network.

“While Canada has strong telecommunication security safeguards in place, we have serious concerns that such safeguards are inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei,” the letter states. The senators warn Canada to “reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance.”

The outcry comes after the head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security dismissed security concerns regarding Huawei in comments last month. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security is Canada’s designated federal agency tasked with cybersecurity.

Next generation 5G networks already pose a number of unique security challenges. Lawmakers caution that by allowing companies linked to the Chinese government to build 5G infrastructure, the U.S. and its close allies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.) would be inviting the fox to guard the henhouse.

As part of the Defense Authorization Act, passed in August, the U.S. government signed off on a law that forbids domestic agencies from using services or hardware made by Huawei and ZTE. A week later, Australia moved to block Huawei and ZTE from its own 5G buildout.

Due to the open nature of intelligence sharing between the U.S. and its closest allies, the Canadian government would be able to obtain knowledge of any specific threats that substantiate the U.S. posture toward the Chinese company. “We urge your government to seek additional information from the U.S. intelligence community,” the letter implores.

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