On December 1st of 2018, Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the elusive founder of Huawei, was arrested in Canada. She has been accused by US prosecutors of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran and, in doing so, violating US sanctions. She has denied these accusations.
Her arrest led to diplomatic tensions between Canada and China; since then, at least 13 Canadian citizens have been arrested within the industrial superpower. At least 8 of them have already been released, but their charges haven’t been disclosed. All together, there are about 200 Canadians who are being detained in China for a variety of reasons and face legal ramifications. To put it into context, there are about 900 Canadians who face a similar situation in the USA, according to Canadian officials.
The Canadian government repeatedly stated that there appears to be no connection between Meng’s arrest in Canada and the detentions of Canadian citizens. On the other hand, former Canadian diplomats and other western diplomats think that these detentions were an “eye-for-eye” reprisal by the Chinese Government. US president Donald Trump suggested he could interfere in this dispute, due to his trade relations with China. The Canadian Secretary of State, Chrystia Freeland, criticized this statement, arguing that the distribution partner – the USA, in this case – should not try to politicize the process of extradition.
On the 11th of December, Meng Wanzhou was released on a 10 million Canadian dollar bail, equivalent to about 6,6 Million Euros. She now resides in Vancouver, fighting extradition to the United States. She must wear an ankle monitor and can only leave her house when expressly permitted.
Meng’s father is one of the founders of the Huawei company, that is, after Samsung, the second largest smartphone producer of the world. In the second quarter of 2018, it sold 54 million smartphones, overtaking Apple for the first time, which sold 42 million iPhones. The company has been criticized for close connections to the Chinese government party KPD. Huawei has also been accused of spying on other governments, though no proof of this has been uncovered yet.
Today marked the end of the Beijing negotiations between Chinese and American diplomats over the trade war. Donald Trump tweeted that said negotiations went very well. He started the conflict when he declared the 250 billion dollar punitive tariff on Chinese imports. China retaliated with a 110 billion dollar tariff on US imports.
This is only the beginning of China’s shocking economic growth. Currently the second largest economy in the world, China finds itself racing the US for “number one.” This race will become more of an important topic in international economy and political field over the next few years. The Asian division will focus on this upcoming conflict in further articles.
Hannes Michael Steinle
Leader of the Asian Division