The Premonition of the Extradition

Angelina Xu ‘21

On December 1st, Canadian officials detained Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of a top Chinese tech company named Huawei, at the Vancouver International Airport at the request of US authorities [1].  Americans accused Meng of violating sanctions on Iran by illegally importing US-made computer equipment into the country under the alleged affiliate company Skycom [2]. They later discovered that Skycom belonged to Huawei, declaring the company’s deception and actions as a threat to national security and a fraud involving millions of dollars.


Further south on the same continent in Buenos Aires, Argentina, President Trump and President Xi Jinping discussed a ceasefire in the trade war between the US and China over dinner [1].  Since China’s recent rapid industrialization, the two countries’ economies have become highly interdependent. Although this close relationship should engender cooperation, it produced tension instead because many in the US see China as a military competitor.  They fear that close trade ties will create vulnerabilities, including economic dependency and easier access to American secrets.


Huawei’s breach in security only corroborated these fears, as some believe that the company’s communications systems in the US will facilitate the Chinese government’s spying on American technological and military secrets [3].  Lily Chen ‘21, claims, “I feel like security is the most important and that it is better to be safe than sorry.” Already, the US and several other countries, including the UK, New Zealand, and Australia, have banned their governments from using Huawei telecommunications equipment [1].


Tensions in China have similarly increased.  After news of Meng’s detainment, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded that Americans release Meng immediately.  Chinese tabloids also reported that the US is trying to stifle Huawei as a business competitor. Second only to Samsung, Huawei boasts higher smartphone sales than Apple [1].  Others angrily claim that the Trump administration is trying to use Meng as leverage in the trade talks [1].


However, the White House later claimed that President Trump did not know about the arrest prior to his negotiations with President Xi due to the lack of coordination between US negotiators and the Justice Department officials who demanded the extradition of Meng [3].


Nonetheless, China’s Commerce Department remains optimistic about the finalization of the trade agreement before the trade war hit its 90th day.  Beijing’s lack of response also shows its weariness regarding the situation, fearing the upset of the negotiations [4].