Canada says medical donations won't sway policies

Montreal (AFP) –


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Tuesday that donations of medical equipment by foreign companies like Huawei in the fight against the coronavirus will have no influence on future government policy.

"We will be receiving donations of equipment from various companies and we're happy that people are offering that," he said.

"But no, we do not expect this to have any impact" on future decisions, he said. "This will not affect our decision on other issues in the years to come."

The prime minister was asked if donations to Canada by Huawei could influence his government's policies toward the Chinese telecoms giant, which is at the center of a protracted diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing.

At a time when the world faces a shortage of masks, Huawei gave Canada more than a million masks, 30,000 face shields and 50,000 pairs of gloves, according to the Globe and Mail daily.

A Huawei spokesperson in Quebec confirmed those figures in a statement to AFP.

"Numerous companies made similar efforts and we were lucky to be in a position, technologically and financially, to help the Canadian population," the statement said.

"Our goal was to help the Canadian population and not to gain publicity."

In January, a Canadian court began deliberating on whether to proceed with the extradition to the United States of Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, accused of bank fraud by Washington.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, was arrested in 2018 during a stopover in Vancouver at the request of the United States, setting off an unprecedented dispute between Canada and China.

Canada must decide in the coming months whether it will authorize Huawei to deploy a 5G network in its territory, which Washington opposes, warning that it would pose risks of espionage and sabotage of western networks.

In other coronavirus developments, Trudeau said Canada will make 30,000 respirators, part of an effort to lessen its reliance on foreign suppliers.

As of midday Tuesday, Canada had 17,065 new coronavirus cases and 369 deaths from the disease.