Huawei ar­rest angers China

The Phnom Penh Post - - FRONT PAGE -

CHINA re­acted fu­ri­ously on Thurs­day after a top ex­ec­u­tive and daugh­ter of the founder of Chi­nese tele­com gi­ant Huawei was ar­rested in Canada fol­low­ing a US ex­tra­di­tion re­quest, threat­en­ing to rat­tle a trade war truce with the US.

The de­ten­tion of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, comes after Amer­i­can au­thor­i­ties re­port­edly launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into sus­pected Iran sanc­tions vi­o­la­tions by Huawei, which was al­ready un­der scru­tiny by US in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials who deemed the com­pany a na­tional se­cu­rity threat.

The ar­rest stirred ten­sions just as the US and China agreed to a cease­fire in their trade spat while ne­go­tia­tors seek a deal within three months.

“We have made solemn rep­re­sen­ta­tions to Canada and the US, de­mand­ing that both par­ties im­me­di­ately clar­ify the rea­sons for the de­ten­tion, and im­me­di­ately re­lease the de­tainee to pro­tect the per­son’s le­gal rights,” Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang told a reg­u­lar press brief­ing in Bei­jing.

Meng was ar­rested in Van­cou­ver on De­cem­ber 1, Canada’s min­istry of jus­tice said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day, prompt­ing China’s em­bassy to say it had “se­ri­ously harmed t he hu­man rights of the vic­tim”.

The min­istry said the US is

seek­ing her ex­tra­di­tion and she faces a bail hear­ing on Fri­day, adding it could not pro­vide fur­ther de­tails due to a pub­li­ca­tion ban that was sought by Meng, whose fa­ther, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is a former Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army en­gi­neer.

Huawei, which over­took Ap­ple as the world’s No2 smart­phone maker this year, said it was un­aware of any wrong­do­ing by Meng and was pro­vided “very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion” about the charges.

“Huawei com­plies with all ap­pli­ca­ble laws and reg­u­la­tions where it op­er­ates, in­clud­ing ap­pli­ca­ble ex­port con­trol and sanc­tion laws and reg­u­la­tions of the UN, US and EU,” the com­pany said.

The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported in April that the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice had opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into sus­pected vi­o­la­tions of Iran sanc­tions by Huawei.

The New York Times said the com­pany had been sub­poe­naed by the US Com­merce and Trea­sury De­part­ments over al­leged vi­o­la­tions of Iran and North Korea sanc­tions.

“China is work­ing cre­atively to un­der­mine our na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests, and the United States and our al­lies can’t sit on the side­lines,” said US Sen­a­tor Ben Sasse in a state­ment link­ing the ar­rest to US sanc­tions against Iran.

The ar­rest oc­curred on the same day that US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Xi struck the trade war truce at a sum­mit in Ar­gentina.

Ye Tan, an in­de­pen­dent Chi­nese econ­o­mist, said Meng’s ar­rest could be used as a “bar­gain­ing chip” in the trade talks.

“The talks will con­tinue but it’s go­ing to be a lot more tense with higher stakes,” Ye said.

But for­eign min­istry spokesman Geng, said both coun­tries will fol­low Trump and Xi’s agree­ment to “in­crease con­sul­ta­tions, and work to­wards an ear­li­est pos­si­ble mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial agree­ment”.

The com­merce min­istry said sep­a­rately it will “im­me­di­ately im­ple­ment” mea­sures reached un­der the trade truce, which in­cludes agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, en­ergy and au­tos, and was “con­fi­dent” a deal could be reached in the com­ing 90 days.

News of her de­ten­tion rip­pled through Asian stock mar­kets, with Shang­hai and Hong Kong fall­ing and tech firms among the worst hit.

Es­pi­onage wor­ries

Huawei is one of the world’s largest providers of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment and ser­vices.

But its US busi­ness has been tightly con­strained by wor­ries it could un­der­mine Amer­i­can com­peti­tors and that its cell­phones and net­work­ing equip­ment, used widely in other coun­tries, could pro­vide Bei­jing with av­enues for es­pi­onage.

In May, the Pentagon said that de­vices from Huawei and ZTE posed an “un­ac­cept­able” se­cu­rity risk. Per­son­nel on US mil­i­tary bases are banned from buyi n g Z T E a n d Hu a we i equip­ment.

Over the sum­mer, Aus­tralia barred Huawei from pro­vid­ing 5G tech­nol­ogy for wire­less net­works in the coun­try over es­pi­onage fears.

New Zealand fol­lowed suit in Novem­ber, but said the is­sue was a tech­no­log­i­cal one.

Bri­tain’s largest mo­bile provider BT an­nounced Wed­nes­day it was re­mov­ing Huawei’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment from its 4G cel­lu­lar net­work, after the MI6 for­eign in­tel­li­gence ser­vice chief sin­gled out the com­pany as a po­ten­tial se­cu­rity risk.

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