Arresting Huawei Exec Is a Case of Spectacularly Bad Timing

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David A. Andelman, visiting scholar at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, wrote an op-ed for CNN about how the arrest of a top Huawei executive may impact the relationship between the United States and China.

Imagine for a moment that Ivanka Trump steps off a plane at Chek Lap Kok Airport and is set upon by Hong Kong security agents, imprisoned, then held for six days before her bail hearing because neighboring China wants to extradite her for interrogation about trade with, say, for example, Taiwan. And this happens on the very day Chinese President Xi Jinping is settling down, an ocean away, for an amicable dinner with his good friend Donald Trump to arrange a cease-fire in a desperate trade war.

 

That is not all that far from the scenario we see playing out now in Canada. The stunningly ill-timed arrest of Meng Wanzhou came at about the moment of Xi’s dinner in Buenos Aires with Donald Trump. Meng is chief financial officer and treasured daughter of Ren Zhengfei, founder of Chinese electronics giant Huawei, and her arrest has at least six levels of such bad attached.

Ren is one of the tight circle of President Xi’s personal technology brain trust, alongside Alibaba founder Jack Ma. China’s immediate reaction to Meng’s seizure was swift and definite—she must be released, plain and simple. She has done nothing wrong, in their view.

 

While Canada has still withheld most details of her seizure, Huawei has said she faces charges in New York by US Justice Department officials. And the Wall Street Journal has reported that DOJ was investigating the company over possible violation of sanctions against trading with Iran.

 

But what would be worth knowing, and quickly, is whether Donald Trump might even be intentionally sabotaging the trade pact with China, at least for the moment. He might even like to see a long-ish postponement, say until the summer or early fall of 2020 when he can then rise to the level of national savior just before his second coronation.

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