The Christian Science Monitor : 2019-02-11
21 : 21 : 21
BRIEFING Why Huawei roils Western fears Some countries have taken measures against the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, has been in the headlines as the US proceeds with a case against one of its executives. Here’s a look at the case, the company, and the global issues at stake. Q: Who is Meng Wanzhou and why was she arrested? company that has never done anything underhanded. But experts, including the European Union’s technology chief, have recently voiced doubts about Huawei’s trustworthiness. FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Jan. 28 that “we should all be concerned by the potential for any company beholden to a foreign government – especially one that doesn’t share our values – to burrow into the American telecommunications market.” Ms. Meng, who is also known as Sabrina Meng, is the daughter of the founder of Huawei, the Chinese tech giant. She is also the company’s chief financial officer.
The US Justice Department issued an arrest warrant for Meng late last year, charging her with violating US sanctions against Iran by doing business through a hidden subsidiary.
So when, last December, she flew into Vancouver, British Columbia, Canadian authorities detained her under the terms of Canada’s extradition treaty with the United States. And Washington formally requested Meng’s extradition Jan. 28. The Canadian Justice Department must decide within 30 days whether to proceed. Q: How has China reacted to Meng’s arrest and the US indictments? ANDY WONG/AP Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang takes part in a briefing Jan. 29. Beijing has called on the US to ‘stop the unreasonable crackdown’ on Huawei. OUTLOOK: It’s showed extreme anger and threatened “grave consequences” for Canada and the US if Meng is extradited. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has accused Washington of trying to “kill” Chinese businesses.
“The US indictment ... is like putting legal lipstick to a pig of political suppression,” tweeted Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party-owned daily in Beijing.
As Canadian Justice officials consider the US extradition demand, they are under heavy pressure. Within days of Meng’s arrest, Chinese police had arrested three Canadian citizens. Another Canadian, who had been sentenced in November to 15 years for drug smuggling, was hastily retried and sentenced to death in January. Q: Why has the case attracted so much attention? Huawei is a flashpoint in what is arguably the biggest current threat to the global economy – a looming trade war between the US and China. The US unsealed fraud and corporate espionage indictments against Meng and Huawei on Jan. 28, as a top Chinese official arrived in Washington for trade talks.
US officials say that Huawei has close ties to the Chinese government and cannot be trusted to build securely the next set of wireless networks – fifth generation, or 5G – in the US or anywhere else.
China believes the US is trying to block Beijing’s emergence as a top-flight technological power out of fear of competition. It sees Washington’s campaign against Huawei as a political ploy with protectionist purposes, and the case against Meng as a leverage tool in trade talks. President Trump fed that impression when he said in December that he might intervene in Meng’s case if that would help close a trade agreement with China or serve US national security interests. Q: What is 5G? The shift to 5G wireless networks is a once-in-a-decade upgrade that will make everything work much faster (think downloading a film in a few seconds) and make the “internet of things” a reality of daily life.
5G will be used to control and monitor everything from the contents of consumers’ refrigerators to nuclear power stations. It will be deeply embedded in society. That is why some regulators are worried about Huawei building such networks.
The US and Japan have banned Huawei from supplying government-owned wireless networks; Australia and New Zealand have forbidden their mobile operators to use Huawei gear in their 5G networks. BT, the largest mobile operator in Britain, and Vodafone have also taken steps unfavorable to Huawei.
There is little Huawei can do to overcome Western misgivings. Governments’ mistrust and fear is prompted more by the nature of China’s authoritarian and opaque government than by the firm itself. At stake: Can China carve an influential place in the world on its own terms, or will the rest of the world decide that even if the “China price” is attractive, the hidden costs are too high? Q: What is Huawei known for? Huawei makes wireless network equipment, mobile phones, and laptops, which it sells all over the world. The company is a shining symbol of China’s global reach and technological prowess.
Huawei was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Mr. Ren’s background is one reason that some Western governments suspect that Huawei takes orders from the Chinese government.
This has sparked fears that Huawei might build hard-to-detect “back doors” into its equipment, giving Chinese intelligence services unparalleled access to devices worldwide. Huawei has repeatedly denied such suggestions, insisting that it is a private, employee-owned – Peter Ford / Global correspondent THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY FEBRUARY 11, 2019 21 | PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER PressReader.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW
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