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Huawei: We simply are trying to help

By RENA LI in Toronto | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-04-09 23:58


Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has been quietly shipping millions of masks and other protective equipment to Canada to help front-line medical workers to cope with the deadly coronavirus outbreak in Canada.

Although the federal government has issued a national call asking domestic businesses to offer products and services to help fill demand, Canada has claimed a critical shortage of life-saving medical equipment with growing cases amid COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenge once intense on Thursday when the Trump administration asked US-based manufacturer 3M to stop sending medical-grade face masks to Canada and Latin America– fortunately, the company announced it reached a deal to continue sending the respirators to Canada and countries in Latin America later on. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also told media on Saturday that Canada will be receiving a shipment of millions of masks from unnamed countries/companies in the next 48 hours.

Coming amidst the global scramble for medical supplies, Huawei's donation including more than one million masks and goggles, gloves was accepted by the B.C. government late last week, but not acknowledged publicly when the province's Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Monday the arrival of timely supplies.

"The province has many supply sources included transfers from our federal partners and a variety of domestic and international suppliers," Dix told PostmediaNews. "We don't share details about our suppliers."

It was argued that Huawei's donation came with the company seeking the approval to join Canada's next-generation 5G network, and Huawei has also sought the release of Meng Wanzhou, its chief financial officer who was arrested in Vancouver in 2018.

But the company's donation is a "particularly valuable one" as the rapid spread of COVID-19 sparks a global race to purchase masks, according to The Globe and Mail.

Asked by the media about Huawei's gifts, Trudeau Tuesday said that donations of medical supplies from foreign companies will not change how the government views those companies going forward.

Huawei said it is simply trying to help by fulfilling a corporate responsibility.

According to Alykhan Velshi, Huawei Canada's vice-president of corporate affairs, they began reaching out to provinces across Canada providing medical masks and other equipment, and the quantity is not whatthey intend to "promote or publicize".

"Many companies are making similar efforts and we're so fortunate we're in a position logically and financially to help out as much as we have been," Velshi told Postmedia.

"We're in a unique position in that we have 1,200 employees in communities across Canada. So we see the need. As a global multinational we operate in more than 180 countries, so we're able to locate and access our supply. Our scale and logistical capabilities mean we're able to move fast," said Velshi.

Huawei has donated millions of protective masks around the world including several EU member states in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic since March.

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