Huawei exec’s ar­rest may trig­ger anti-US sen­ti­ment

Waikato Times - - World -

China yesterday de­manded that Canada free an ex­ec­u­tive of Chi­nese tech­nol­ogy gi­ant Huawei who was ar­rested in a case that com­pounds ten­sions with the United States and threat­ens to com­pli­cate trade talks.

Meng Wanzhou, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of Huawei Tech­nolo­gies, faces pos­si­ble ex­tra­di­tion to the US, ac­cord­ing to Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties. The Globe and Mail news­pa­per, cit­ing law en­force­ment sources, said she is sus­pected of try­ing to evade US trade curbs on Iran.

Huawei, the big­gest global sup­plier of net­work gear used by phone and in­ter­net com­pa­nies, has been the tar­get of deep­en­ing US se­cu­rity con­cerns. Un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama, Wash­ing­ton has pres­sured Euro­pean coun­tries and other al­lies to limit use of its tech­nol­ogy.

The US sees Huawei and smaller Chi­nese tech sup­pli­ers as pos­si­ble fronts for spy­ing and as com­mer­cial com­peti­tors. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion says they ben­e­fit from im­proper sub­si­dies and mar­ket bar­ri­ers.

The tim­ing of the ar­rest is awk­ward fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of a US-Chi­nese cease­fire in a trade war that has its roots in Bei­jing’s tech­nol­ogy pol­icy. Meng was de­tained in Van­cou­ver on the day Trump and Xi Jin­ping met in Ar­gentina and an­nounced their deal.

US na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser John Bolton told NPR that he knew of the pend­ing ar­rest in ad­vance. He de­clined to talk about the specifics of the case and said he didn’t know if Trump knew about be­fore it hap­pened but added that there has been enor­mous con­cern about the prac­tice of Chi­nese com­pa­nies like Huawei al­legedly us­ing stolen US in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty. He said that would be a ma­jor sub­ject of ne­go­ti­a­tions with China.

Cana­dian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was given a few days’ ad­vance no­tice of the in­ten­tion of Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties to ar­rest her but said it was the de­ci­sion of law en­force­ment and there was no po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence.

‘‘I can as­sure ev­ery­one that we are a coun­try of an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary and the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties took the de­ci­sions in this case with­out any po­lit­i­cal in­volve­ment or in­ter­fer­ence,’’ Trudeau said.

He also said he could not com­ment fur­ther be­cause of a pub­li­ca­tion ban. A spokesman for Canada’s jus­tice depart­ment said Meng re­quested the ban and the depart­ment could not com­ment fur­ther.

Stock mar­kets tum­bled on the news, fear­ing re­newed US-Chi­nese ten­sions that threaten global eco­nomic growth.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 2.5 per cent and the DAX in Ger­many sank 1.8 per cent. In the US, stocks knocked more than 780 points off the Dow Jones In­dus­trial Av­er­age be­fore the Dow ral­lied to fin­ish just 79 points down.

A Chi­nese gov­ern­ment state­ment said Meng broke no US or Cana­dian laws and de­manded Canada ‘‘im­me­di­ately cor­rect the mis­take’’ and re­lease her.

Bei­jing asked Wash­ing­ton and Ot­tawa to ex­plain the rea­son for Meng’s ar­rest, said a For­eign Min­istry spokesman, Geng Shuang. He said ar­rest­ing her with­out that vi­o­lated her hu­man rights.

But the Min­istry of Com­merce sig­nalled that Bei­jing wants to avoid dis­rupt­ing progress to­ward set­tling a dis­pute with Wash­ing­ton over tech­nol­ogy pol­icy that has led them to raise tar­iffs on bil­lions of dol­lars of each other’s goods.

China is con­fi­dent they can reach a trade deal dur­ing the 90 days that Trump agreed to sus­pend US tar­iff hikes, said a min­istry spokesman, Gao Feng.

Trump’s tar­iff hikes on Chi­nese im­ports stemmed from com­plaints that Bei­jing steals or pres­sures for­eign com­pa­nies to hand over tech­nol­ogy. But US of­fi­cials also worry more broadly that Chi­nese plans for state-led cre­ation of Chi­nese cham­pi­ons in ro­bot­ics, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and other fields might erode US in­dus­trial lead­er­ship.

‘‘The United States is step­ping up con­tain­ment of China in all re­spects,’’ said Zhu Feng, an in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions ex­pert at Nan­jing Univer­sity. He said tar­get­ing Huawei, one of its most suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies, ‘‘will trig­ger anti-US sen­ti­ment’’.

‘‘The in­ci­dent could turn out to be a break­ing point,’’ Zhu said.

Last month, New Zealand blocked a mo­bile phone com­pany from us­ing Huawei equip­ment, say­ing it posed a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant net­work se­cu­rity risk’’. The com­pany was banned in Au­gust from work­ing on Aus­tralia’s fifth-gen­er­a­tion net­work.

On Wed­nes­day, Bri­tish phone car­rier BT said it was re­mov­ing Huawei equip­ment from the core of its mo­bile phone net­works. It said Huawei still was a sup­plier of other equip­ment and a ‘‘val­ued in­no­va­tion partner’’.

The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported this year US au­thor­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether Huawei vi­o­lated sanc­tions on Iran. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment ap­pealed to Wash­ing­ton to avoid any steps that might dam­age busi­ness con­fi­dence.

Based in Shen­zhen, near Hong Kong, Huawei has the big­gest re­search and de­vel­op­ment bud­get of any Chi­nese com­pany. –AP

Meng Wanzhou

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