Consumers experience 5G cell phones in a business hall of China Mobile Beijing Branch in Beijing, capital of China, October 31, 2019. (Xinhua / Shen Bohan)
A move by the Canadian authorities to force CMLink, the Canadian subsidiary of China’s largest telecommunications provider China Mobile, to cease its services in the country citing national security risks, has drawn widespread criticism in both China and Canada, where many made the decision criticized as politically motivated.
The move is likely to put China-Canada relations, which have barely recovered from the release of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzheng about three months ago, back on track as the Canadian government appears to double its hostility towards China, Chinese officials said Analysts feast Thursday.
CMLink has announced that it will cease operations on January 5, 2022. As of Tuesday, customers will no longer be able to purchase CMLink SIM cards or register new single-card multi-number applications, according to a statement on the CMLink website describing the discontinuation of operations at the request of the federal government of Canada. All users can apply for a full balance refund, with single-card multi-number services being suspended from March 31, 2022.
The announcement came after the Canadian government pushed aside efforts by CMLink to mitigate so-called security concerns, which immediately sparked public anger at Ottowa’s crackdown on Chinese companies.
Some internet users used the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo to describe Canada’s move as “unjustified” and as a violation of the interests of both peoples. They called for countermeasures.
“This unreasonable decision is yet another example of the Canadian government’s crackdown on Chinese companies that are following in the footsteps of the US by politicizing economic issues, which harm both Chinese and Canadian interests and the normal development of economic and social affairs Trade relations between the two countries will affect, “said Bai. Ming, deputy director of the International Research Institute of China’s Commerce Department, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Bai said Canada played a dishonorable role in Meng Wanzhou case and failed to prevail when Meng returned to China and is now targeting other Chinese telecommunications companies. “Canada thinks that the suppression of Chinese companies is its strong point, but it is a pity Canada has no other strength than this,” noted Bai.
The forced withdrawal of the company’s Canadian entity also saddened local users who preferred CMLink’s services. Knowing that China Mobile was forced to close its Canadian business, some Chinese in Canada expressed disappointment at the Canadian government’s decision.
“Even if I don’t return to China, I still want a domestic cell phone number to receive text messages from my hometown in Canada,” a Chinese citizen studying in Canada, nicknamed ‘lulu’, told the Global Times on Thursday.
After Canada inappropriately shut down the service, all she could do was buy a new local calling card and then a Chinese calling card when she returned to China.
China Mobile’s CMLink service is popular with Chinese Canadians because its one-card multi-number service allows them to use both Chinese and Canadian cell phone numbers, especially for users who travel frequently between China and Canada and offer the convenience of not having to change cards and numbers.
Another Chinese woman named Wang, who works in Canada, told the Global Times on Thursday that the termination caused great inconvenience to Chinese visiting family and friends, as only domestic cell phone numbers can perform functions such as electronic payments.
On December 11, Canadian media company Global News announced that the government had ordered China Mobile to divest its stake in a Canadian subsidiary and claimed that its investment could result in the Canadian business being sold by the Chinese state for “non-commercial purposes “Is being used for purposes, including compromising critical infrastructure and foreign interference, to the detriment of Canada’s national security.”
China Mobile asked the federal court to overturn the latest ruling. The government has no reason to believe that the company would compromise security or espionage because the company owns or operates no transmission facilities in Canada and does not have privileged or direct access to any critical infrastructure or access to sensitive telecommunications data or personal information , with the exception of the basic contact details.