The problems being faced by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down. It started when the company’s CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on December 1, fueling doubts about the trade ceasefire and adding more storm to the strained relationship between the U.S. and China. The allegations? She helped Iran get around economic sanctions by lying about the company’s affiliation with Skycom, an Iran-based affiliate, moving millions of dollars to Iran. The second part of the allegations borders on the theft of trade secrets.
Ironically, Meng was arrested on the same night American and Chinese leaders had a sit down in Argentina to thrash out a trade truce. U.S. officials have rejected the claims that her detainment has any political undertone. They argue that her arrest is a law enforcement issue, and the timing, like everything else, is coincidental.
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker said at a news conference:
As I told high-level Chinese law enforcement officials in August, we need more law enforcement cooperation with China. China should be concerned about criminal activities by Chinese companies and China should take action.
While we can agree that Meng showed up at the airport about the same time a warrant for her arrest was sent to the Canadian authorities, the U.S. government’s call for a total boycott of Huawei’s product is anything but coincidence.
Huawei’s elusive founder and the father of Meng, Ren Zhengfei is not buying this. Speaking with BBC in an interview , Ren said Huawei hadn’t done anything wrong. There have been allegations, quite all right, but Washington has no proof of wrongdoing.
Ren runs China’s largest private company, which has grown in astronomical value in the past ten years. It’s currently the second largest smartphone maker, having knocked Apple off last year, and the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world.
The Trump led administration claim that the telecoms company is a global surveillance tool used by the Chinese government. They claim the firm’s equipment have a backdoor that allows for cyber snooping and intelligence gathering by China. To this effect, the government has set plans in motion for an executive order that would ban any supplier it suspects to be a threat to national security.
However, Washington won’t be satisfied until Huawei is crushed to the ground. The U.S. has been urging its government and telcos in its allied countries to put the breaks on using Huawei’s equipment for their 5G rollout. Trump is so desperate to see Huawei fall that he’s considering increasing financial aid to countries that heed its call, per reports on the Wall Street Journal.
Ren noted yesterday:
There’s no way the US can crush us. The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit.
Ren went on to add:
If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine. And if the North goes dark, there is still the South. America doesn’t represent the world. America only represents a portion of the world.
While the British government won’t ban Huawei, the UK’s telecoms industry is shaken by the allegations coming out from America. British Telecom (BT) has stripped the firm’s equipment from its core operations. The second largest mobile operator in the world Vodafone said it would pause the deployment of Huawei’s equipment while they wait for the all clear to use them from the government.