In what could be the most politically motivated arrest in the 21st century, Canadian authorities have arrested Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Huawei after being ordered to do so by US authorities. Huawai is well known as one of the world’s top microchip and smart phone producers and is also the company that currently leads the world in pioneering 5G ultra-high speed wireless internet technologies. Meng was arrested during a visit to Vancouver from where she is expected to be rapidly extradited to the United States, where authorities have accused her of the “crime” of doing business with Iran – a country under heavy US sanctions.
The following significant points must necessarily be made in light of Meng Wanzhou’s arrest:
The US is violating Meng’s human rights
Meng Wanzhou is by all means a peaceful businesswoman who is the CFO of one of the world’s largest and most successful companies. Her arrest was motivated by entirely political reasons and while it happened on Canadian soil, it was later confirmed to be ordered by the United States. What’s more is that as Meng has been arrested for what in any other nation except the United States (including Canada) would not be a crime nor a civil offence, it can be said that in America’s own terminology – Meng’s arrest and detention was and remains “cruel and unusual”. Meng’s human rights as defined by international law have been violated as she has been arrested for completely political purposes.
Furthermore, as Meng’s father Ren Zhengfei is among the most influential businessmen in China and indeed the world, the calculated political attack on Meng is meant to send a deeply threatening personal message to her father and to the wider Chinese business and political community.
The US has assaulted the modern principle of international commerce and the free market
One of the most crucial elements of modern commerce is the ability to freely travel throughout the world in order to do business deals, present new innovative products and to acquire goods from partner companies. By ordering the arrest of a prominent businesswoman from one of the world’s most important companies while on the soil of a US allied nation, the US is putting at risk the very principle of free, open and robust international commerce.
If Meng’s political arrest sets a precedent, it will mean that one could only do business in nations allied to the place of one’s birth and/or residence as the risk of being arrested for political purposes in nations with different foreign policies would simply be too high. This is a precedent that belongs more in the dark ages than in the 21st century and yet it is a precedent that the US may have already irreversibly set.
Canada has surrendered its sovereignty
Canada did not support Donald Trump’s unilateral re-imposition of sanctions on Iran last month and while Canada can’t do very much to stop its more powerful neighbour, there is no reason why Canadian police should be ordered by the United States to arrest a Chinese businesswoman who had not committed any actual crime as defined by Canadian law.
At a time when Canada is being openly bullied by Washington not to hire Huawai to build the country’s future 5G network, it is clear that the US has “put Canada in its place” and that the Canadian authorities did not even put up a fight for their principles or sovereignty.
Trump’s most despicable bargaining chip yet?
Because Meng’s sustained detention let alone a trial before a kangaroo court over Huawai’s sales in Iran could forever altar anyone’s desire to trade with the US and/or visit America or allied nations for fear of being arrested for political purposes, it could well be that the Trump administration has decided to violate Meng’s human rights in order to attempt and gain some perceived leverage in the discussions in end the trade war with China.
If anything, such a method will not only poison the global commercial atmosphere, but if Trump thinks this will bring China to the table in a more enthusiastic manner in respect of the trade war – the opposite is in fact true. The reckless and piratical attitude of Washington in respect of Meng puts trade discussions between the US and China in jeopardy while jeopardising the very principles of the free market that the US supposedly stands for. It is no surprise that markets throughout the world have reacted negatively to Meng’s politically motivated arrest.
What the world has witnessed is not just a perverse abuse of power from the US, but it will only serve to sow long term distrust verging on contempt in terms of Beijing’s views on the mentality of the United States.
If Bill Gates was arrested in Pakistan (a Chinese ally) before being extradited to China to face politically motivated criminal charges, the US would almost certainly threaten sanctions on China and possibly even threaten a military response if Gates was not freed and fully pardoned of any wrongdoing.
Thus far, the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa has issued the following official statement:
“The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou”.
Beyond this, an editorial in China’s highly influential Global Times says the following about Meng’s arrest. The editorial’s author paints the US as using its long arm of lawlessness to stifle Huawei’s corporate growth:
“Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies was arrested by Canada on December 1 at the behest of the US. Meng is also daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei. Obviously Washington is resorting to despicable rogue approach as it cannot stop Huawei’s 5G advance in the market.
The US is seeking Meng’s extradition to face unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York. According to Canadian media, US charges may stem from Huawei’s violation of American sanctions against Iran.
Huawei denied the accusation in a statement. The Chinese embassy in Canada on Wednesday voiced its firm opposition to the arrest of Meng, saying it is “gross violation of human rights.”
Despite incomplete information about the incident, the US move obviously goes against the consensus reached between the heads of state of China and the US in Argentina. The incident shows that China faces a complicated competition with the US. Beijing needs determination and wisdom to safeguard its own interests.
With the arrest, the US is sending signals to the international community that it is targeting Huawei. It is clear that Washington is maliciously finding fault with Huawei and trying to put the company in jeopardy with US laws. Washington is attempting to damage Huawei’s international reputation and taking aim at the tech giant’s global market in the name of law.
We call on the Chinese government and society to offer moral support to Huawei and Chinese diplomats to offer timely assistance to Meng. We also support Huawei in its legal battle with the US to prove its innocence and thwart some Americans’ plot to throw the company off track.
Huawei has been growing steadily by strictly following laws. It draws management experience from all transnational companies and maintains the highest standards in this regard. It is impossible that Huawei would want to deliberately violate US regulations. It will be difficult for the US to convict the Huawei executive.
Huawei should try to defeat the accusers under the US legal framework. In case the US prosecutes Huawei with an unwarranted charge, the case will become complicated, but Huawei will still have plenty of room to turn over”.
Later, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said:
“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”.
While US officials are fond of claiming that they operate from the high ground, Meng’s arrest proves that the US authorities have a remarkable tendency behave like an international mafia operating a devious and criminal operation from the heart of a supremely corrupt gangsters’ nest. If the US truly believed in free markets, they would not try to endanger Huawei’s success through a politically motivated arrest of one of the company’s top executives. This is 18th century high seas piracy in a digital age.
Furthermore, the US risks pushing the world closer to a new world war unless Meng is freed at once and receives an apology from both Canada and the United States. It was the interlocking alliances of powerful nations before the First World War that ultimately led to a small Balkan conflict ballooning into what was then called The Great War. Not only did the alliances formed before the First World War embrace the protectionist cause which cut off businesses in one block of allies from the resources, customer base and partner companies in other parts of the world, but in so doing, members of the business community who in a free trading mindset benefit from peace, actually pushed for war in an attempt to break the protectionist monopoly of rival nations.
By turning the reactionary ideology of protectionism into a weaponised attempt to destroy the peace created through an open, free and rules based world economy, the US risks encouraging the further militarisation of business and capital in such a way that will actually force the hand of the private sector towards advocacy for military action, whereas by contrast, in the Chinese model of a free global economy, inter-connected businesses benefit from the proliferation of peace and harmonious international multilateral relations.
Not since threatening war against Korea has the United States made such a reckless move which challenges world peace, the sustained existence of the free market and peaceful international commerce. Washington’s move also challenges the notion that the United States is a sane nation. The arrest of Meng by compliant and weak Canadian authorities shows that the United States isn’t the rational superpower it aspires to be but instead behaves like a mentally deficient child with their finger on the nuclear button. If this situation is not de-escalated soon, many dangerous precedents will be set.