Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., continuing its efforts to polish its reputation in Canada, is announcing plans to invest $210-million in its Ontario operations and create 325 new jobs over the next five years.
The Chinese telecom equipment supplier first opened a Canadian office in 2008 and since then has announced a number of investments, including $67-million in 2010 toward its Ottawa research and development centre, which it said last year would play a starring role in its international research on 5G (fifth-generation) wireless technology.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is in China on a trade mission, was expected to be present for Huawei's announcement of the investment during a news conference at its Beijing facility on Saturday morning, local time.
In a prepared statement, she praised Huawei's Ontario expansion, noting it would create "a significant number of jobs and reinforces Ontario's position as a global leader in ICT [information and communications technologies] and telecommunications."
Following its 2010 research and development investment, Huawei received $6.5-million in research and development tax credits from the Ontario government. Scott Bradley, vice-president of corporate and government affairs for Huawei Canada, said in an interview the province is not contributing any funding and Huawei has not secured any government grants in connection with the funding announced Saturday.
"We feel the research climate in Ontario is excellent. The access to talent is excellent," he said, noting that the company did not see government funding as necessary to its investment decision.
"The key thing for us in terms of having a great relationship with the province of Ontario … [is] it's helpful to building our brand in Canada," Mr. Bradley said. "This is not about changing minds in other markets," such as the United States.
The company is seen as having ties to the Chinese government and has faced claims that its equipment could facilitate espionage, which it has repeatedly denied. It scaled back efforts to win business in the United States after a congressional committee said in 2012 that the company was a threat to national security and advised against installation of its gear in government computer systems.
Huawei has also encountered skepticism from the Canadian federal government, which reportedly blocked it from bidding on a contract for a government telecom and e-mail network in 2012. Last year, before Ottawa eventually rejected a deal for Egyptian firm Accelero Capital Inc. to purchase MTS Inc.'s Allstream division on national security grounds, one of Accelero's concessions was said to be that it not use Huawei equipment in the Allstream network.
However, Huawei has supplied equipment for BCE Inc. and Telus Corp.'s shared wireless network as well as for SaskTel and a number of smaller carriers and ICT companies and its handsets are sold by many Canadian wireless carriers.
It has offices in five Canadian cities, including its Markham, Ont., headquarters, and employs 550 Canadian workers with more than 95 per cent in Ontario. It says it will use the new funding to hire 250 more engineers and researchers and 75 additional employees in sales, marketing and support, all in Ontario. Huawei has 150,000 employees worldwide.
Mr. Bradley said Huawei recognizes it works in a sensitive industry and has tried to address government concerns by investing in innovation and creating jobs.
"It helps with the story of Huawei in Canada," he said. "If you're buying a smartphone and you know that is a company that's creating jobs for you, these are all positive things for us."
"We certainly believe in helping to reinforce our commitment to Canada and to try and build that trusted brand."