Peppered with questions about security concerns and ongoing diplomatic tensions between Canada and China, Huawei’s vice-president of corporate affairs Alykhan Velshi said he’s “not a diplomat”.
Velshi dismissed former-ambassador John McCallum’s urging that Huawei’s communist motherland go easier on Canada, and distanced himself and the Canada arm of China-based technology firm from deteriorating relations between the two countries.
“Let me make it clear. John McCallum doesn’t speak for Huawei Canada, never has. I think Minister (Chrystia) Freeland very helpfully clarified that nor does he speak any longer for the government of Canada,” he said, adding that Huawei Canada wished to align itself with her position.
“No Canadian should ever advise or counsel a foreign government to take sides in a Canadian election…it’s totally inappropriate.”
At the event hosted by Huawei Canada, Qikitaaluk Corporation and Canadian telecom midfielders Ice Wireless, Velshi announced a cellular connectivity deal between Huawei and Ice to deploy high-speed network capabilities for 70 communities in the Arctic and norther Quebec.
Ice executive Jean-Francois Dumoulin declined to discuss specific dollar figures involved in the deal.
The company is also branding its northern connectivity deal with five-minute advertisements Huawei Canada hopes to screen at cinemas across the country.
Velshi also dismissed a Washington Post story about Huawei’s work in North Korea and any nefarious activity in Canada.
“If you go to our office in Kanata or you go to our office in Markham this perception that it’s sort of Dr. Evil’s lair and we’re toiling away at the latest world ending scheme is false… it’s bunch of engineers solving engineering problems.”
Relations between China and Canada have reached a nadir since the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou for extradition to the United States in December.
In retaliation China arrested two Canadians and later charged them with espionage, and implemented multi-billion dollar agriculture embargoes.