Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and is also the CFO of the company. She would have thought of Vancouver as a second city to her, seeing that its population of wealthy, successful Chinese immigrants practically own the city and have made it a completely unaffordable city for even many a hard-working professional who doesn’t have a cool 7 figures to drop on a modest 3-bedroom house.
Something changed, and Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver in order to be extradited to America on charges relating to the company’s reported defying of sanctions on trading with Iran, as well as perhaps concerns about intellectual property theft, something that just about every major Chinese corporation or SOE is likely to have benefited from.
The Canadian prime minister quickly tried to distance himself from his own judiciary, and even John Bolton has publicly said that President Trump himself might not have known. Or, in fact, had known what was coming. But it’s possible Trump didn’t know about this, and it certainly undercuts his improvised ceasefire with Xi, which was quickly put together at the G20 in Buenos Aires.
Is it the right thing to do? Espionage, especially industrial espionage, but also espionage in order to gain a commanding position in technologies that might be used in the next major war or are being used in various low-scale wars or confrontations with hybrid warfare, is something China has almost certainly been guilty of for some time.
Zhengfei himself was a People’s Liberation Army ex-officer when he founded Huawei back in 1987. It would hardly surprise if surveillance and espionage have been goals from the get-go for the corporation. And that brings us to other nations that seem to have made the decision to distance themselves from Huawei’s products. Those nations are:
- The UK: BT (British Telecom) has decided to remove Huawei equipment from key parts of its 3G and 4G networks. The head of MI6 stated that they would have to decide if they were “comfortable” with the use of Huawei equipment and the position of the Chinese tech company in general.
- Australia and New Zealand: Governments in both countries have decided to block the use of Huawei equipment in their future 5G networks.
- Canada: Canadian justice and law enforcement collaborated with America to detain and presumably extradite Meng Wanzhou.
Let’s see, doing the math that would add up to – including America, of course – um, five countries, right? Five Eyes, you could almost say.
Although this is conspiracy working, it is interesting that the intel community across the Five Eyes alliance decided that a few days after Trump’s tentative deal with China would be the right time to arrest a key Chinese tech executive on Canadian soil, the last place Trump or Xi would have expected such an occurrence. This could be a coincidence. Or it could be a deliberate attempt by the intel community along with officials in Trump’s own DOJ (which remains the purview of Rod Rosenstein more than it is that of Acting AG Matthew Whitaker) to force the President’s hand. Frustration with a lack of sanctions that target espionage, in particular, could be their excuse.
Or they just want to disrupt the administration, and this is a great way to do it.
Unfortunately, aside from political motivations and questions about timing, this may very well turn out to be something that had to be done. Xi’s China has abused its privileges in the world trading system and is actively trying to intimidate and use its trading partners for its own mercantilist benefits. It comes at an awkward time, and it smells a little of Trump derangement syndrome, but this will unleash a confrontation that has been building anyway.
I just wonder if President Trump had any idea this was coming.