Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou is a victim of market war and tec-nationalism

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By Allawi Ssemanda

After spending nearly three years under house arrest in Canada, Huawei’s chief executive, Meng Wanzhou gained her freedom and was allowed to return to her home country, China.  Media reported that the decision to free her followed a deal between Meng, her legal team and U.S’ justice Department that Meng agrees to some wrong doing and be granted deferred prosecution. Before her release, Meng appeared before a Brooklyn, New York court via video link where she pleaded not guilty. The U.S requested Canada to arrest her alleging that she engaged herself in bank wire fraud by concealing information from Hong Kong based HSBS bank with intention of bypassing U.S sanctions and do business with Iran.

Meng’s legal team has always criticised her arrest and prosecution terming it political and that it “displays legal and factual defects rarely seen in fraud prosecutions, at least at the committal stage,” further arguing that the U.S side citing Trump administration abused what they called the “good faith” of the extradition process.

Meng’s arrest caused sharp dispute between Beijing and Ottawa on one hand and with Washington on the other as China insisted that the arrest was political and harassment of Chinese citizens. Indeed, Canadian ambassador to China then John McCallum was categorical,

publicly arguing that the U.S extradition request for Meng was seriously flawed and that it would be “great for Canada” if the U.S dropped the request. Just hours later, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed Ambassador John McCallum from his ambassadorial role.

Nonmatter legal manoeuvrers and diplomatic words accusers front to defend Meng’s arrest and prosecution, critical analysis and the pattern before and after her arrest points at Washington’s tech-nationalism, the urge to expand her legal and political hegemony and geopolitical undertones. It can be argued that Meng’s arrest is arguably part of a broader scheme to drive her company – Huawei which is considered the world’s 5G leader out of market since it threatens traditional telecommunications firms’ strategic dominance.

It should be recalled that in January 2018, U.S’ National Security Council published a document and recommended that government review Huawei’s so-called threats in 5G area. Just after 2 months, U.S’ trade rep complained that China was using her tech firms to damage U.S interests.

In the same year, U.S amplified her campaigns against Huawei through public statements and legislate bills were introduced to ensure Huawei is kicked and locked outside U.S’ market as Washington campaigned amongst her allies to do the same. It is arguably not a coincidence that Meng was arrested in the same year, 1st December 2018. Indeed, at that time president Trump observed that Meng was pawn or a bargaining chip for the U.S to win some concessions from Beijing. When asked if he would consider releasing Meng should China accept Trump’s trade deal terms, president Trump observed; “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.” From such, it is not far-fetched to conclude that Meng was arrested to be used as pawn in U.S’ trade war with China.

In May 2019, the U.S included Huawei on state department entity list thereby effectively blocking Google’s Android from working with Huawei before imposing “U.S foreign direct product” rule on Huawei thereby banning any oversea firm from using U.S origin patents to supply Huawei products.

The case which Justice Department alleges that Meng concealed rHuawei’s relationship with a subsidiary firm in Iran to bypassed Washington’s sanctions against Iran lack international laws backing. For a record, Meng was dealing with HSBC bank for her company’s business in Iran. Despite U.S’ secondary sanctions on companies doing business with Teheran, it is important to note that these are secondary sanctions and are unilateral and have never been tested based on international law and as such, no international legal frame work to force all countries to enforce such sanctions as it is when sanctions are imposed by United Nations.

In otherwards, U.S’ insistence that Meng’s Huawei doing business with a firm based in Iran is illegal is laughable. It is a textbook example of U.S’ hegemonic tendencies driven by their libido dominandi – the urge to dominate the world through bullying means.

Even the claims that Huawei is a security threat is not backed but U.S tech firms’ failure to outcompete Huawei’s technology. According to a study by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the U.S just worried that Chinese tech firms are taking over due to their steadfast investments in innovations; “the United States watched warily as China’s economic heft has grown and as the technological sophistication of its manufacturing base has increased.” For example, in Africa and entire global north, Huawei’ has a far wider market, a development that threatens U.S’ market.

The study further contends that, other than China,  no single country can outsmart Chinese tech firms in  technological innovations. In conclusion, one can conclude that Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou was arrested not for reasons Washington and Ottawa advanced but she was a victim of geopolitical fights, and U.S’ fear of a prospering tech giant – Huawei.  Despite what may have been tough times during her imprisonment, her arrest in one way or the other was a blessing in disguise for it tested Huawei’s resilience. Also, the unity of not just Chinese people but voices of people from different countries all over the world when it comes to standing with a person many thinks is unfairly targeted. From the humble gesture a Chinese college student who took a bouquet of flowers to Chinese Foreign ministry thanking Beijing for what she called government’s efforts in ensuring Meng is freed to collection of almost 15 million signatures from over 100 countries petitioning Canada to release Meng, this arrest should serve as an example that when you’re innocent, there are good people who will always stand by you. To Meng Wanzhou, welcome back to your homeland!

Allawi Ssemanda, is Executive Director of  DWC. 



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