Bilateral talks may resolve Huawei workers’ ‘espionage’ immigration spat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 May, 2016, 10:52pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 May, 2016, 9:27am

A bilateral dialogue between Beijing and Ottawa could help allay concerns about spying levelled by Canadian authorities on the immigration applications of two Chinese employees of Huawei Technologies, an expert said.

“If there are genuine concerns of espionage, and if there is genuine evidence to support these concerns, then governments should communicate,” said Paul Haswell, a partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that Canadian immigration officials have cited the risk of espionage as they prepared to reject the immigration applications of the two Huawei employees, the first such cases to emerge amid a swirl of unsubstantiated security concerns about the Shenzhen-based telecommunications equipment manufacturer.

Canada cites espionage risk from two Huawei employees, saying it plans to reject their immigration applications

Victor Lum, vice-president at Well Trend United, the two applicants’ immigration consultant, said it was the first time Huawei employees are being singled out in such a manner. The procedural fairness letters gave the applicants 30 days to respond.

“Huawei cannot substantiate any speculative allegations on any independent person’s application to emmigrate to Canada or any other country,” a Huawei spokesman told the Post.

Haswell played down speculation that other employees of Huawei, Hong Kong-listed ZTE and other Chinese technology companies could now be suspected of espionage.

“Nationals from a range of countries have been denied entry, detained and in some cases charged on allegations of spying by countries around the world,” Haswell said. “This issue says more about the current climate regarding security than it does about tech companies and their actions.”

Huawei and ZTE had suffered from a backlash in North America since 2012, after a report from the United States House of Representatives Intelligence Committee declared that the two firms posed a threat to US security and should be barred from the market.