Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Huawei Finance Chief's Arrest Threatens To Inflame U.S.-China Tensions

A Huawei logo is seen at a Huawei store at a shopping mall in Beijing Wednesday A Huawei logo is seen at a Huawei store at a shopping mall in Beijing Wednesday
Lloyd Bates | 07 December, 2018, 09:50

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is denying any political involvement in the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive at the Vancouver airport last weekend, while experts warn the move could put a chill on Canada-China relations.

China said that Meng - the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in China's People's Liberation Army - had violated no laws in either Canada or the United States.

"The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim", the embassy said in a statement. Meng was detained in Vancouver on Saturday, the day Trump and Xi Jinping met in Argentina and announced their deal.

Ms Meng is the company's chief financial officer and the founder's daughter.

The Virginia Democrat said in a statement on the arrest that there's "ample evidence" to suggest Huawei is not independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party.

Dean Garfield, president of the U.S. Information Technology Industry Council trade group, said innovation by U.S. companies often depends utterly on product development and testing by Chinese partners, not to mention component suppliers.

Huawei has clarified from their end that she faces unspecified charges in the NY.

Experts have warned that Meng's arrest could negatively impact trade negotiations between the US and China, just as President Donald Trump has been hailing the success of a weekend meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Despite being essentially barred from the critical USA market, Huawei surpassed Apple to become the world's number two smartphone maker in the second quarter of this year and has market leader Samsung in its sights. USA authorities seized a laptop that contained a "treasure trove" of evidence of ZTE's illegal business in Iran, one of the sources said.

Huawei has been banned from helping build fundamental communications infrastructure in some western countries, including 5G telecom service, over fears that it leaves those countries vulnerable to espionage on behalf of the Chinese government. Chinese technology has been a particular bugbear for the USA president, who has justified imposing tariffs on Chinese imports with allegations of intellectual property theft by Chinese companies.

The United States has been looking since at least 2016 into whether Huawei violated USA sanctions against Iran, Reuters reported in April.

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Sen. Marco Rubio called for Meng's extradition.

The Shanghai Composite index in China dropped 1.7% as the country's government demanded her immediate release.

"I imagine that some Chinese are going to see this as the equivalent of a hostage-taking", he said.

In May, the Pentagon said that devices from Huawei and ZTE posed an "unacceptable" security risk.

The United States has also been looking since at least 2016 into whether Huawei violated USA sanctions against Iran, Reuters reported in April.

Huawei, one of the world's biggest suppliers of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has been the subject of deepening security concerns within the US government and the governments of countries like Australia and New Zealand.

Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, responded: "Traders have quickly moved out of riskier assets reflecting nerves that the arrest is likely to escalate tensions between the U.S. and China once again".

"If someone from the United States is hoping to use threats to an individual's personal safety in order to add weight in the talks, then they have most certainly miscalculated", he said.

The U.S. almost put another large Chinese firm, ZTE, out of business earlier this year when it banned the company from using U.S. technology. Other, less wealthy nations are concerned less about spying and more about low prices, which play to Huawei's advantage.

"China has the means, opportunity, and motive to use telecommunications companies for malicious purposes", a government report said.

Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has been the target of deepening United States security concerns. ZTE, whose Hong Kong-listed shares were suspended in April because of the ban and only resumed trading in July, was also forced to replace its board.

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