China’s state media accused Canada of acting like a United States puppet that gave in to Washington’s “hegemonism” by caving in to the Justice Department’s demand for Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou to be arrested earlier this month. In a polarizing editorial that went live on Thursday, China’s Global Times published an editorial wherein it argues Ms. Meng’s arrest is illegal as it violates an existing extradition treaty between the U.S. and Canada and that Ottawa should release the 46-year-old immediately and unconditionally instead of continuing to act as “the 51st [U.S.] state.” The bulk of that argument rests on the claim that the controversial arrest is purely political in nature and doesn’t have a strong legal backing in reality; both international law and precedents set by Canada’s responses to previous U.S. extradition requests dictate politically motivated extradition requests should not be honored under any circumstances, the outlet argued.
Neither the Trudeau administration nor Washington responded to the criticism and aren’t expected to do so, even as part of China’s propaganda machine concluded its latest publication with what could be perceived as a threat: “Canada must be clear that in the U.S. political war against China, if it picks the U.S. side, it will inevitably be injured by China’s counterattack.”
Trump accused of manipulating the U.S. judicial system
The state-owned media outlet argues President Donald Trump’s Wednesday comments that saw him indicate a willingness to intervene in Ms. Meng’s case if doing so would help the U.S. in its ongoing trade negotiations with Canada demonstrate the stateside judicial system isn’t independent. The same source pointed to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s support of the President’s stance as further evidence of that assertion, describing Ms. Meng’s arrest as nothing short of yet another politically motivated attack against China and its rising technology sector.
Huawei itself has been arguing similar points in the past, accusing Washington and other Western governments opposing its aggressive global expansion in order to unfairly aide its rivals. The U.S. government any many American companies tell a different story; one that doesn’t lack in accusations of trade secret theft, corporate espionage, and close ties to China’s communist government indicative of major security risks. Those connections go all the way back to Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer and official of the People’s Liberation Army. Ms. Meng who’s been with Huawei since its startup days in 1993 is also one of Mr. Ren’s three children.
An endless stream of regulatory issues
The list of Huawei’s accusers alleging the company practices trade secret theft includes everyone from Cisco Systems and T-Mobile to Motorola and even some Silicon Valley startups. Many of those ended up taking the company to court, though the Chinese conglomerate often chose to settle so as to avoid dragging those accusations through the court, a policy many interpreted as an indirect admission of guilt. While Huawei’s ambitions to bring its contemporary Android smartphone portfolio to the U.S. are no secret, the only wireless carrier willing to partner with it on that goal — AT&T — was pressured into dropping the idea by Washington in early 2018, mere hours before the partnership was planned to be announced at Las Vegas, Nevada-based Consumer Electronics Show.
Some half a year later, Congress voted for this year’s spending bill that contained an anti-Huawei provision, essentially barring government agencies from purchasing or licensing any kind of technologies produced by the Chinese company, as well as solutions that are in any way associated with the thereof. Both Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese firm also targeted by the same provision, condemned the move as unfair. Around the same time, the Pentagon banned sales of Huawei and ZTE Android smartphones on and around U.S. military bases in the country and abroad, citing national security concerns.
This is just the beginning
Ms. Meng’s December 1 arrest appears to be only the beginning of things to come; the industry veteran was released on bail equivalent to $6.5 million earlier this week and is presently under limited house arrest, wearing an ankle monitor and being without her passport after a Vancouver court decided any lesser measures would make her a flight risk. The executive’s legal team previously argued the defendant would never dishonor her father by openly defying a court order and fleeing the country. The stateside Justice Department has until early February to submit an official extradition request, something it’s expected to do before the end of the year. Beijing already registered its complaints in the media and with U.S. Ambassador to China and former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, though the amount of political pressure it exerted up until now has yet to yield any results.
Initial reports on the matter and Ms. Meng’s bail hearing revealed the Justice Department suspects the Huawei CFO of establishing an illegal banking scheme and forging hidden ties to a Hong Kong company operating in Iran with the goal of circumventing U.S. trade sanctions imposed on the Middle Eastern country. Ms. Meng has no criminal record anywhere in the world and Huawei insists it has no evidence of any wrongdoing on her part. High-profile tech executives in both the U.S. and China are now said to be fearful of finding themselves in the middle of Washington and Beijing’s clash that may be escalating with Ms. Meng but has started as soon as President Trump took office, promising a trade war less China agrees to negotiate a new trade deal with the U.S. and address the issue of deficit between the two. He later came good on that promise, imposing tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of Chinese goods and technologies, prompting Beijing to retaliate in an eye-for-an-eye manner. The two countries agreed to a 90-day truce at a late November G20 summit in Argentina but as news of Ms. Meng’s arrest broke only days following that gathering, their relations are now once again hitting a historic low. The Huawei executive will continue to fight the DOJ’s extradition demands later this month at a court in Vancouver.