by WorldTribune Staff, December 6, 2018
Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies, was arrested by Canadian authorities on Dec. 1 and is now facing extradition to the U.S. on suspicions that she violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Meng’s arrest came around the same time U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping called for a trade war truce as they met for dinner at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires.
Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times, described Meng’s arrest as a “declaration of war” against China.
Huawei has long been identified by U.S. security analysts as a firm that worked closely with the Chinese communist regime in advancing its strategic goals.
“This is what you call playing hardball,” said Michael Every, head of Asia financial markets research at Rabobank in Hong Kong. “China is already asking for her release, as can be expected, but if the charges are serious, don’t expect the U.S. to blink.”
Related: U.S. intel chiefs emphatic: Don’t buy Chinese phones, February 15, 2018
Meng, who is also deputy chairwoman of the telecom frim and the daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei, was taken into custody on behalf of the U.S. while she was transferring flights in Vancouver, Huawei said in a statement.
“To understand the magnitude of this arrest, just imagine how the U.S. would react if Beijing arrested Jeff Bezos’ (hypothetical) daughter?” Zero Hedge noted in a Dec. 5 report.
Beijing immediately lodged a formal protest, publishing a statement at its embassy in Canada, and demanding the U.S. and its neighbor “rectify wrongdoings” and free Meng, warning it would “closely follow the development of the issue” and will “take all measures” to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.
James Lewis, the director of technology policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Axios the U.S. should be prepared for a backlash following Meng’s arrest.
“If I was an American tech executive, I wouldn’t travel to China this week,” warned Lewis, who labeled Huawei “one of the Chinese government’s pet companies” and charged the communist country’s leaders wouldn’t be afraid to “take hostages.”
The U.S. previously banned ZTE Corp., a Huawei competitor, for violating a sanctions settlement over transactions with Iran and North Korea.
Related: China’s PLA-backed Huawei to expand presence, investment in Turkey, December 23, 2011
Prosecutors in New York have since early this year been investigating suspicions that Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Huawei this year overtook Apple as the No. 2 global smartphone maker, shipping more than 52.2 million units according to Gartner Inc.
Reuters reported in 2013 that Meng served on the board of Hong Kong-based Skycom Tech that later attempted to sell embargoed Hewitt Packard computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator. At least 13 pages of the Skycom proposal were marked “Huawei confidential” and carried Huawei’s logo. Huawei has said neither it nor Skycom ultimately provided the HP equipment. HP said it prohibits the sale of its products to Iran.