Huawei: What is behind the arrest of chief financial officer
The chief financial officer of Huawei was arrested this week in Canada and faces a request for extradition to the United States on charges that the company violated sanctions imposed on Tehran. Authorities suspect that the firm exported products of US origin to Iran and other countries subject to sanctions since 2016, thus violating US laws.
However, behind the arrest there is a much deeper conflict. The case shows a hardening of Washington to his suspicions of espionage by Beijing.
Meng Wanzhou is Ren Zhengfei´s daughter, founder of Huawei and former engineer of the Chinese Army. The Chinese embassy in Canada issued an energetic protest in which it affirmed that Meng did not “transgress any law of Canada or the United States”.
A recent federal law in the United States prohibited the Army and the government from using Huawei devices and the Chinese firm ZTE for security reasons. In addition, US agencies are implementing standards that will prevent Huawei from developing fifth generation (5G) networks in the country.
Now, the arrest is aimed at further elevating tensions among the world’s biggest economic powers. The relations were already under pressure due to Washington’s accusations against Beijing for unfair trade, theft of trade secrets and cyberespionage.
Huawei denies any link with the Chinese government but in Washington many are skeptical. “Huawei acts as an arm of Chinese intelligence and is supported by the Chinese government for intelligence reasons,” said technology expert James Lewis.
According to Lewis, China will be harmed because its 5G system depends on chips and technologies from Silicon Valley companies. Huawei and many other firms “could not develop 5G technology without Intel or other (US) chip manufacturers,” he said.
The truth is that the company has been under Washington surveillance for more than a decade. In 2007, was denied their participation in the telecommunications firm 3Com and in 2010 failed in their attempt to improve the Sprint wireless network.
Earlier this year, the firm was one step away from announcing an alliance with AT&T to distribute smartphones in the United States, but abruptly canceled the plan. The company also faces bans on accessing 5G contracts in Australia and New Zealand, and British telecoms group BP said it is recalling Huawei equipment used in its cell phone network.
Government officials say China uses technology to steal trade secrets. Beijing is considered the main defendant of the theft of data from millions of US public employees in 2015. A report said this year that Chinese companies have inserted “spy chips” into technological items from the United States, which maximizes the risk of espionage. The affected companies denied what was indicated in that report.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton said Meng’s arrest is a blow to Chinese cyberespionage. “The arrest of a Huawei executive should be the first of many steps in the free world against Huawei, an arm of the Communist Party of China,” Cotton tweeted.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner said the arrest shows that Huawei and other Chinese firms want to defy sanctions and become key players for Beijing. “For a long time it has been clear that Huawei, as ZTE, represents a threat to our national security. This is a reminder about risks of doing business and give access to our markets to companies like Huawei,” he added.
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