Meng’s Arrest Shows Trump Is Serious About Crackdown on China’s Trade Practices

December 10, 2018 Updated: December 10, 2018

The essence of the legal problem faced by the chief financial officer for Huawei, Meng Wanzhou—who was arrested in Canada earlier this month—is the allegation that, at her direction, the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei was actively transferring technology to Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions.

While this has received quite a bit of attention from the media, the important aspects of this case are being completely ignored. We have long known that technology was making its way to pariah countries such as Iran, and certainly, China and Russia are at the forefront of such activities.

From a U.S. legal perspective, going after Huawei is going after low-hanging fruit, an easy legal target. The evidence is going to be voluminous and conclusive, if it ever goes to trial. That, of course, is one of the key questions. In Canada, where the arrest was made at the United States’ request, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended Canadian actions by stating the arrest isn’t politically motivated. I believe this is absolutely correct from Canada’s perspective.

As the case moves toward extradition, however, the real question is whether it will remain non-political. Can the weak and malleable Trudeau remain non-political and let justice run its course? Will he allow Meng (also known as Sabrina Meng) to be extradited to the United States to stand trial, or will Canada bow to Chinese pressure?

Trudeau, who has a track record of susceptibility to political pressure, may find it difficult to stand up to the Chinese. Time will tell, but this will be a close-run thing at best; if released, Meng will immediately flee to China.

From the U.S. perspective, the selection of Meng and Huawei for prosecution is very political and gives us profound insights into the high-level negotiations between China and the United States. The Trump administration has stated clearly that any deal with China has to be “real” or there will be no deal at all. Publicly, China has attempted to push back, as we have seen in their reaction to President Donald Trump’s threats to install tariffs on Chinese goods if they don’t remove unfair trade practices against U.S. goods.

The theft of U.S. technology has been one of the stumbling blocks in negotiations, as well, which remains underreported. It’s clear the Chinese didn’t take the president’s warnings on this issue seriously, even though it has to have been one of the important topics stressed in the talks. The arrest of Meng is a bold response on the part of the United States and Trump, and a kick in the teeth of the Chinese intended to show the seriousness of the U.S. position.

The question is whether the Chinese receive this message and deal honestly, or we can expect a wave of similar arrests to further emphasize the point and continued pushback from the Chinese.

The completely ignored but by far most important new development out of this case is that the president has the courage to prosecute these sorts of crimes which are so political in nature. The importance of this can’t be overstated.

For many decades and through many U.S. administrations, we have watched technology make its way to countries that are enemies of Western civilization and the United States, and almost nothing has been done to stop it. Trump has now made it categorically clear that there is a new sheriff in town, and one who isn’t afraid to enforce the law and face sharp political opposition.

There are many companies from many countries involved in this sort of illegal activity; they’re involved because they can make serious money through these activities. Huawei is just one of many and isn’t particularly significant from a legal perspective of the United States as a result. They are large and very active, so it is easier to build a case against them, which is what makes them low-hanging fruit. It could have been any one of a large number of other companies.

The Chinese perspective is diametrically opposed; Meng represents something hugely important for them. Her father was the founder of Huawei and that isn’t possible without being completely tied to Chinese leadership. Meng is a second-generation golden child and represents one of the action arms of the Chinese government’s foreign policy. She represents something fundamentally important to China and they will fight hard to get her home safely to China.

Almost comically, China is arguing that Meng’s human rights are being violated just as the BBC is running a special expose on the well-documented Chinese “gulag” where innocent Chinese dissidents and others are imprisoned with no regard whatsoever for their human rights.

Brad Johnson is a retired CIA senior operations officer and a former chief of station. He is president of Americans for Intelligence Reform.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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