A senior executive for the Canadian unit of Huawei Technologies Co. who has served as the public face of the Chinese firm in this country since 2011 is parting ways with the Shenzhen-based company as it faces growing problems around the world.
Scott Bradley, a well-connected corporate lobbyist who endeavoured to portray Huawei as a beneficial contributor to Canada’s economic development, quietly left the company earlier this week.
He leaves as Huawei faces its biggest crisis ever, with its chief financial officer detained in Vancouver, facing possible extradition to the United States, and broadening worry in foreign capitals that this flagship Chinese tech company is too big a security risk to allow into next-generation mobile-network infrastructure.
Mr. Bradley would not discuss the reasons for his departure when contacted by The Globe and Mail on Friday, but Huawei Canada released a statement saying he had played a crucial role in building the Chinese telecom’s brand in Canada and outreach to governments.
“We are extremely grateful for his contributions to Huawei Canada during the past seven-and-a-half years and I personally want to take this opportunity to thank him for the dedication and valuable support he has provided to me during the time we worked together," Huawei Canada president Eric Li said in a statement provided to The Globe and Mail. Mr. Li said Mr. Bradley will continue to serve as special adviser when required.
In a separate memo on Friday to Huawei Canada, Mr. Bradley himself said his departure was “not a sudden decision but rather an understanding over the past year-and-a-half that at some point, I would be moving on from a formal role with the company.”
Mr. Bradley, a former BCE Inc. executive, joined Huawei after he was defeated as a Liberal candidate in the 2011 general election, and he strived to cultivate a favourable reputation for the Chinese telecom in Canada and to counter the perception it was closely linked to China’s authoritarian government.
Mr. Bradley has faced increased scrutiny in the past year as Washington mounted pressure on major allies, including Canada, to bar Huawei from providing equipment for next-generation 5G wireless networks, arguing it is to closely linked to Beijing and that its gear could be used to spy on Western interests.
On Friday, Poland arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations – a move that could fuel Western security concerns about the telecom-equipment maker.
A spokesman for the Polish security services said the allegations relate to individuals’ actions and were not linked directly to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
Reuters identified the Huawei employee as a man named Wang Weijing, and reported he was arrested but not charged.
A LinkedIn profile for Mr. Wang showed he has worked for Huawei’s Polish division since 2011, and previously served as attaché to the Chinese general consul in Gdansk, Poland, from 2006 to 2011.
American and other Western security experts, including three former heads of Canadian spy agencies, have raised concerns that Huawei could be asked by Beijing to incorporate back doors into their equipment for spying or sabotage purposes. Under Chinese law, approved in 2017, companies are required to “support, co-operate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work.”
As Huawei’s frontman in Canada, Mr. Bradley repeatedly emphasized that Huawei obeys all of Canada’s laws and would not spy on Canadians.
Since Mr. Bradley joined the company eight years ago, Huawei has established an increasingly public profile in Canada.
The company supports the Jays Care Foundation, the Sasktel Indigenous Youth Awards of Excellence and Actua, a national charity that teaches young people to code.
The company also sponsors the Ottawa Senators, the Toronto International Film Festival and program segments on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central. Huawei has even hosted almost 60 engineering students from Canada for work-study getaways to China through its global Seeds for the Future program.
Mr. Bradley serves on the board of the Canada China Business Council lobby group and is the brother-in law of Susan Smith, a co-founder of Canada 2020, an influential think tank with close ties to the Liberal government – and which is partly funded by financial contributions from Huawei.
Huawei, which is privately owned under a complex shareholding structure, was founded in 1984 by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer with the People’s Liberation Army who sat on the 12th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Years ago, the company faced allegations that trade secrets stolen from Nortel and Cisco ended up in its hands (Cisco sued Huawei in 2003 for patent infringement, settling a year later).
Earlier this year, Jake Enwright left his post as Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s communications director to take up a position as Huawei’s director of corporate affairs in Canada.
With files from Reuters