Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Global smartphone makers Huawei and ZTE have been subject to restrictions around the world
Security concerns may be preventing Canadian authorities from saying whether they will allow Huawei to build its 5G mobile networks, according to an expert.
Dr Iain Grant, a vice-president at think tank Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said he did not understand what Canada’s national security review was doing.
He said the review should have taken into account concerns about the Chinese company, such as possible espionage.
Canada is among several western countries that have restricted Huawei and its rival ZTE from building 5G networks.
Huawei denies any wrongdoing. The company was ordered in April by Australian authorities to halt its 5G network plans in the country.
Dr Grant told the BBC’s World News America programme that Canada’s review, which is still ongoing, was leaving analysts in the dark.
Mr Grant pointed out that US intelligence agencies were also concerned about the Chinese firms, and security is an issue that American authorities have taken into account when rejecting them from building 5G networks.
“The concern with Huawei is because it’s not a US vendor, you would have security concerns,” he said.
Dr Grant suggested that putting Canadian regulations, such as the risk of Chinese espionage, to a national security review could still do more harm than good.
There was no reason for Canada’s security review to only allow the Chinese firm to build the telecoms infrastructure, he added.
Should Washington lift sanctions against China and allow it to participate in any kind of 5G procurement project, it could cost Canadians millions of dollars, he warned.
“Security is not a black-and-white question,” Dr Grant said.
“It’s a grey issue that we have to manage. We don’t want to stop because we’re concerned about something they might have built. It doesn’t do us any good to not do it.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The US has imposed sanctions on several Chinese firms, in an attempt to weaken China’s military
John Babcock, spokesman for the Canadian government, declined to comment when contacted by the BBC.
Huawei is being investigated by the security review by Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, and Public Safety Canada, the country’s national security police.
Mr Babcock said the findings would be made public.
The firm’s CEO, Richard Yu, said it was normal practice for government entities to conduct reviews into the company’s security processes.
He told the BBC that Huawei has spent years developing cybersecurity standards that meet the intelligence and security standards in the United States, Canada and the UK.
Dr Grant said there was another issue facing Canadian authorities: If the US were to relax its restrictions, it could lead to them actually hiring Chinese hackers for their network protection.
“There’s no reason to put in place cybersecurity measures that would be disadvantageous to them and Canadian companies,” he said.
China’s Huawei, ZTE and other telecoms equipment manufacturers have become targets of US concern over spying.
In 2011, the US House Intelligence Committee warned that they posed a security risk because of the way they were positioned to “intercept, transmit, and store very sensitive information”.
Huawei has said it makes its equipment and data security available to all governments and the public.