TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With Canada on the verge of deciding whether to ban Huawei from its 5G infrastructure, over 75% of Canadians are reportedly opposed to the company’s presence, according to a new poll.
Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail commissioned the survey from Nanos, which began conducting it after the release of Michael Kovrig and Michel Spavor from Chinese custody in late September. The two Canadians had been held in severe conditions for over 1,000 days for alleged espionage.
They were picked up by Chinese authorities just days after Canada’s arrest of Huawei heiress Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) for alleged bank fraud, with the detention of the Canadians widely viewed as a case of “hostage diplomacy.” Hours after Meng’s release, following a deal with U.S. prosecutors who had been seeking extradition, Kovrig and Spavor were set free on what China described as medical parole.
While some of Canada’s closest allies have imposed bans on Huawei, including the U.S., the U.K., and Australia, Canada had delayed addressing the issue for three years, reportedly out of concerns it could impact the treatment of the two Michaels. The new poll would seem to indicate that Canadians are ready for their country to play catch-up on the issue.
According to the data, 76% of Canadians do not wish to see Huawei included in the country’s 5G plans, up from 53% who felt the same way in a 2019 poll. On the flip side, only 10% think Huawei should be included in the plans, a drop from 22% in 2019.
Meanwhile, 87% of Canadians either “support or somewhat support” their country working with the U.S., the U.K., and Australia to “contain China’s growing power,” the newspaper wrote. Last month, the three other countries entered into a defensive arrangement called AUKUS with the unstated but implied purpose of reacting to China’s aggression in the Indo-Pacific.
As for trade, 69% of Canadians would like to see a delay in seeking a bilateral free trade deal with China, compared to 47% who felt that way in 2019. A total of 19% support a trade deal, a fall from 43% in 2019.
The newspaper quoted Nanos pollster Nik Nanos, who said, “If the relationship between China and Canada was damaged in 2019 — now it’s severely damaged.” Nanos attributed the worsening views to an “accumulation effect” that comes from a range of issues, such as China’s internment of the Uyghurs, its repression in Hong Kong, and its threats against Taiwan.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said late last month that the federal cabinet was poised to make a decision on a potential Huawei ban, indicating to reporters that it was very likely, per The Globe and Mail.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian (赵立坚) responded to news of the poll on Tuesday (Oct 12.), demanding that Canada offer “a fair, just, open and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies,” per Bloomberg News.
In another poll by Nanos, this time conducted for Bloomberg, 36% of Canadian respondents said their country’s ties with China had been permanently damaged.
Both polls had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points and were conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3.