THREAT: ’China is working creatively to undermine our national security interests,’ US Senator Ben Sasse said in a statement linking the arrest to US sanctions against Iran
/ AFP, BEIJING
China yesterday reacted furiously after a top executive and daughter of the founder of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co （華為） was arrested in Canada following a US extradition request, threatening to rattle a trade dispute truce with the US.
The detention of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou （孟晚舟） came after US authorities reportedly launched an investigation into suspected Iran sanctions breaches by Huawei, which was already under scrutiny by US intelligence officials who deemed the company a national security threat.
The arrest stirred tensions just as the US and China agreed to a ceasefire in their trade spat while negotiators seek a deal within three months.
“We have made solemn representations to Canada and the US, demanding that both parties immediately clarify the reasons for the detention and immediately release the detainee to protect the person’s legal rights,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang （耿爽） told a regular press briefing in Beijing.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday last week, the Canadian Ministry of Justice said in a statement on Wednesday, prompting China’s embassy in Ottawa to say it had “seriously harmed the human rights of the victim.”
The ministry said the US is seeking her extradition and she faces a bail hearing today, adding that it could not provide further details due to a publication ban that was sought by Meng, whose father, Ren Zhengfei （任正非）, is a former Chinese People’s Liberation Army engineer.
Huawei, which overtook Apple Inc as the world’s No. 2 smartphone maker this year, said it was unaware of any wrongdoing by Meng and was provided “very little information” about the charges.
“Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws, and regulations of the UN, US and EU,” the company said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal in April reported that the US Department of Justice had opened an investigation into suspected breaches of Iran sanctions by Huawei.
The New York Times said the company had been subpoenaed by the US Department of Commerce and the US Department of the Treasury over alleged contraventions of Iran and North Korea sanctions.
“China is working creatively to undermine our national security interests, and the United States and our allies can’t sit on the sidelines,” US Senator Ben Sasse said in a statement linking the arrest to US sanctions against Iran.
The arrest occurred on the same day that US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping （習近平） agreed the trade dispute truce on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.
Huawei is not the first Chinese telecommunications equipment company to face the ire of US authorities.
Earlier this year, the US imposed a seven-year ban on the sale of crucial US components to Chinese smartphone maker ZTE Corp （中興） after finding it had failed to take action against staff who were responsible for contravening trade sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
The ban nearly destroyed the Chinese technology company, forcing it to cease major operations in May.
A month later, Washington and Beijing reached a deal that would strike ZTE from the sanctions list — just days after China reportedly offered to ramp up purchases of US goods to reduce the trade imbalance with the US.
US officials denied any connection between the two.
In exchange, ZTE agreed to pay a hefty US$1 billion fine and put an additional US$400 million in escrow in case of future breaches. It was also ordered to replace its board of directors and retain outside monitors.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Huawei Technologies Co chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou attend a session of the VTB Capital Investment Forum “Russia Calling!” in Moscow, Russia, on Oct. 2, 2014. Photo: Reuters