Canada’s federal police on Thursday suspended a contract with a Beijing-linked firm to supply and maintain police radio equipment – following a political backlash, the public safety minister’s office said.
The half-million dollar contract for a radio frequency filtering system to prevent eavesdropping had gone to Canada’s Sinclair Technologies, which is controlled by China’s Hytera Communications.
Concerns were raised about potential Chinese access to Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) communications since the Shenzhen-based company – which has been blacklisted by the United States – is partly owned by the Chinese government.
“The RCMP has suspended the contract,” a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said.
When asked about it this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the deal was “disconcerting”, given his security agencies’ warnings about Chinese espionage and interference in Canadian affairs.
Opposition Tory leader Pierre Poilievre said Wednesday it was an “astonishing” gaffe.
“I mean, it’s almost something that you’d expect to be out of a spy novel, but characters in spy novels would never be that incompetent,” he commented.
The US Federal Communications Commission banned Hytera in 2021, saying it was among several Chinese firms that pose a national security risk. Huawei is on the same US list, and has been banned by Canada too.
Hytera also faces accusations – which it denies – of conspiring to steal trade secrets from American telecommunications company Motorola Solutions.
A key former Hytera director has pleaded guilty to taking part in the conspiracy, according to filings released December 7. South China Morning Post