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Chinese telecom giant Huawei should be required to set up a publicly-traded company in Canada if it wants to be permitted to supply gear for this country’s 5G networks, former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques told a Parliamentary committee Monday.

“We should tell Huawei we welcome all public companies,” he told media later.

“The idea would be to bring more transparency to its operations … if you are listed on the TSX you have to abide by the rules,” he said, referring to the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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Under this proposal, Huawei would then face greater disclosure and reporting requirements in Canada.

Huawei Technologies Canada, the Chinese company’s Canadian unit, could not say whether it would contemplate going public in this country.

“That’s a decision for our board of directors,” Alykhan Velshi, vice-president of corporate affairs at Huawei Technologies Canada, said. ”We have worked closely for years with the Canadian government and its security agencies, and we have repeatedly told them we will meet any test and surpass any benchmark they set for 5G participation.”

Canadian Members of Parliament have formed a special committee to study Canada-China relations following Beijing’s decision to lock up two Canadians in a case of what critics call “hostage diplomacy.” China has said relations will not return to normal until Canada frees Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested by Ottawa in 2018 on a U.S. extradition request.

The committee is holding hearings as Canada deliberates whether to exclude Huawei from 5G networks as the United States, Australia, Japan and Taiwan have done.

Top security officials in the United States and Australia warn that Huawei gear might be exploited by Beijing to spy on other countries. They point to China’s recently implemented National Intelligence Law, which compels Chinese citizens and companies to “support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work” when asked.

Huawei has insisted it would never comply with a directive to spy for Beijing and company officials have proposed signing a pledge not to conduct espionage.

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Mr. Saint-Jacques, however, told MPs that it’s already evident that major Chinese tech companies are collaborating in other controversial ways with Beijing, including the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to implement a punitive “social credit system” that punishes Chinese citizens for illicit behaviour.

“No Chinese company can refuse a request from the Chinese government to provide information,” the former envoy told MPs.

“We know that Alibaba and Tencent and JD.com are providing all the information to the Chinese government to put in place the Chinese social credit system,” Mr. Saint-Jacques said.

The proposal to make it a rule that only publicly traded companies should be allowed to supply 5G networks was first proposed by Canadian business consultant John Gruetzner, who works in China.

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