China Unicom bolsters Canadian presence

Chinese telecommunications giant China Unicom has further increased its Canadian presence by opening an office in Toronto and proclaiming that it will push further communications between both carriers and companies in the two countries.

The move is all part of the Chinese telecom's international expansion into 240 countries, including a key focus on trade relationships with Canada and the U.S. market. The company's goal in Canada is to serve as a communications gateway to Asia by providing network backbone support to Canadian telcos that want to connect to China and telecom services to Canadian companies expanding into China. At the same time, a Globe and Mail story said, Chinese businesses will be encouraged to connect with Canada.

"Our sole mission and unwavering force or our Toronto operations will be to support the global network infrastructure requirements of our Canadian clients," Yitao Wu, president of China Unicom (Americas) Operations said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony covered by the newspaper.

The telecom's presence is only part of what the paper called a "flourishing trade relationship" between the two countries. China is the second largest merchandise trading partner for Canada, a position that  Prime Minister Stephen Harper emphasized when he led a trade mission to China earlier this year.

Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE), Telus (Toronto: T.TO), Rogers Communications (NYSE: RCI) and Manitoba Telecom Services are among China Unicom's Canadian telco partners. Worldwide, the company has partnership agreements with over 100 carriers.

"There are many, many Chinese companies that are coming here, so they need telecom services because they want to expand their business," Wu told the newspaper. For now, at least, the company's North American advances are limited to wireline services even though Wu said that the carrier has "the largest iPhone user base outside the United States."

It won't expand its wireless base here because "the market is too competitive" and building new wireless infrastructure would require "a lot of investment," he concluded.

For more:
- the Globe and Mail carried this story

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