Canada Arrests Huawei Exec, Embroils Itself In U.S.-China Trade and Espionage War
Photo: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images.
A top executive at Chinese telecomm giant Huawei has been arrested in Canada on behalf of U.S. authorities.
At the request of U.S. authorities, Meng Wanzhou, the deputy chair of Huawei’s board and daughter of the founder, was arrested on Saturday in Vancouver as she was changing planes. Meng will be extradited to the U.S. where she faces charges of violating trade sanctions with Iraq. In 2017, ZTE, another China-based telecom was also fined for violating Iran trade sanctions.
Meng is not only CFO at Huawei, but she is also the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, a multi-billionaire Chinese businessman who founded the company. Imagine the reaction in the U.S. if Chinese authorities arrested the daughter of Verizon’s or AT&T’s CEO.
There is more than a suggestion that Meng’s arrest for presiding over the shipment of U.S.-derived goods to Iran is politically motivated. Huawei (pronounced wa-way), which is now the biggest manufacturer of telecommunications network equipment and the third largest sellers of smartphones, has long been a threat to the U.S. not just because of its market penetration but also because of its close ties to the Chinese government. There is fear among lawmakers in Washington that the company is using its access to U.S. customer base for corporate espionage purposes. Huawei has repeatedly refuted the claim that Beijing has any control over its business.
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse applauded the arrest, telling the Globe and Mail that: “China is working creatively to undermine our national security interests and the United States and our allies can’t sit on the sidelines. Americans are grateful that our Canadian partners have arrested the Chief Financial Officer of a giant Chinese telecom company for breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran.”
Meng’s detainment could affect Canada’s trade relationship with China. U.S. politicians have asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to limit Huawei’s role in the new global 5G network, saying it would open up Canada to a huge security risk.