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Huawei aims to ‘build trust’ in Canada

The president of Huawei Canada said he is committed to finding solutions to the ‘perception issues’ that the company faces.

TIM CHONG/REUTERS

Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is moving to defuse the controversy sparked by allegations that its products can be used by Beijing for espionage, saying it plans to build trust by investing in Canada and partnering with domestic companies.

Sean Yang, president of Huawei Canada, told a communications industry conference on Tuesday that his company's investment in Canada, especially its research and development facility in Ottawa, will have numerous "spinoff benefits," including more partnerships with Canadian suppliers.

"We know we still have a long road ahead of us in Canada to build trust, but we are staying on the path," Mr. Yang said during a keynote address at the International Institute of Communications (Canada) conference.

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Huawei, he added, is committed to finding solutions to the "perception issues" that it faces by being transparent with its customers and the Canadian government. In that regard, he voiced support for the federal government's initiatives to bolster cybersecurity.

"We're incorporated in Canada. We follow Canadian laws and regulations. We've never had an issue," Mr. Yang said. "As a company with $32-billion in annual revenue, we would never do anything to jeopardize or undermine the trust we know is critical to our long-term success."

Although the company has denied the spying allegations, Huawei's perception issues are centred on the fact that its founder was previously a member of China's People's Liberation Army.

Earlier this month, Huawei confirmed that it does not plan to bid on a contract to overhaul the federal government's security-sensitive phone and data networks after the Prime Minister's Office signalled the company would be excluded from the process.

Also this month, a U.S. congressional committee raised security concerns about using Huawei's products for its government computer systems, alleging the company's equipment could be used by the Chinese government for spying on foreign nationals.

As the world's second-largest maker of telecom gear, the Shenzhen, China-based company has a global work force of 140,000 people in 150 countries, including more than 450 employees in Canada. It supplies equipment to a number of global telecom companies, including Canadian carriers such as BCE Inc., Telus Corp. and Wind Mobile.

"It's been a tough month for us here in Canada," Mr. Yang said. "The report from the U.S. Congress has not been helpful, and for many Canadians who've never heard of our company before, we've got significant work to do to build trust. We understand this. Building this trust is not going to happen overnight."

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