China-telco partnership fears unwarranted, says Ontario official

The nascent partnership between a Chinese development group and an entrepreneurial hub funded by three levels of Canadian government has raised concerns from an outspoken former security adviser to Nortel Networks.

Brian Shields, who advised the telecommunications giant on security, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that the state-owned Zhongguancan Development Group (ZDG) should not be trusted with unlimited access to Canadian intellectual property.

In December, ZDG announced that it was contributing $10 million toward a business incubator in partnership with Invest Ottawa, a joint venture of the city of Ottawa and the Ontario federal governments. The incubator, which will be managed by a Chinese director, will provide funding and support to Ottawa-based technology start-ups that want to do business in China.

Shields, who claimed in 2012 that China's Huawei Technologies spent years hacking into Nortel's systems and stealing information, says that Invest Ottawa “ought to be really worried” about ZDG's motives.

Invest Ottawa CEO Bruce Lazenby responded that all business partnerships come with risks, and that he put his faith in Canada's federal security agencies to prevent cyber espionage.

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