Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Canada has banned the use of equipment from Chinese companies in its 5G networks. It said that the suppliers could be forced to comply with extrajudicial directions from foreign governments in ways that could conflict with Canadian laws.

By September this year, the companies will not be allowed to sell new 4G or 5G equipment to the telecom companies, and by June 28th, the companies will have to remove their 5G equipment from the networks. The equipment must be removed from 4G networks by the end of the decade.

At the heart of security concerns is China’s National Intelligence Law

Canada is the latest member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to place restrictions on the use of equipment from Chinese companies. The US is spending billions removing and replacing equipment in their networks, while the UK banned the use of equipment from the Chinese company in 2020. The use of equipment in Australia and New Zealand has been restricted on national security grounds.

China's National Intelligence Law, which critics claim can be used to make Chinese organizations and citizens cooperate with state intelligence work, is the core of these concerns. The fear is that this could be used to force Chinese tech companies to hand over sensitive information from foreign networks to the Chinese government.

China will take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests in this incident.

Canada has taken three years to make a decision about the use of equipment from Chinese companies in its telecoms networks, a period which coincides with worsening relations between it and China. In December of last year, Canada arrested the Chief Financial Officer of the Chinese company, suspected of violating US sanctions. China imprisoned two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Spavor and businessman Michael Kovrig. The Canadians were released after the US came to a deal with Meng that allowed her to return to China.

The Canadian government's delay has been criticized by opposition politicians. BCE and Telus have already stopped using the equipment from the Chinese company over fears of a ban, according to a report.