Chinese Executive’s Arrest Sets Trump Priorities on a Collision Course

Chinese Executive’s Arrest Sets Trump Priorities on a Collision Course


Last Saturday, as Ms. Meng was being arrested in Canada, the two leaders said at a working dinner at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Argentina that they had reached a truce on the trade war that Mr. Trump started over the summer. That conflict has roiled global markets, which in turn has made Mr. Trump uncomfortable. The two nations set a goal of reaching a broader trade agreement within 90 days. The timing of Ms. Meng’s arrest appeared to be coincidental.

But that arrest, and the request by the United States to Canada to extradite Ms. Meng, means the trade talks will almost certainly become more difficult. China could cancel upcoming rounds of the talks; in September, China canceled talks after Mr. Trump announced new tariffs.

The Chinese government has not yet mentioned the arrest of Ms. Meng in relation to the trade talks, but it said Wednesday that her arrest was unjust and demanded her immediate release.

Besides aiding Iran and North Korea policies, the arrest allows the Trump administration to underscore the risks of doing business with large Chinese technology companies. American officials, including Mr. Spalding, have warned other nations not to deal with Huawei or ZTE, another major Chinese technology company. (It was the earlier Justice Department investigation of violation of Iran sanctions by ZTE that helped lead to the Huawei inquiry.)

American officials have raised questions about how closely tied the two companies are to Chinese security agencies and the People’s Liberation Army. The founder of Huawei and Ms. Meng’s father, Ren Zhengfei, is a former army engineer who has become one of China’s most successful entrepreneurs. American officials are urging other countries to not enter into deals with Huawei on developing fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless service networks.

Members of Congress have also been involved in the efforts. In October, two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee — Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, and Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida — wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to urge him to prevent Huawei from supplying equipment for his country’s 5G network. In August, Australia barred Huawei and another Chinese technology company, ZTE, from providing equipment for building 5G network infrastructure.

If Ms. Meng were to stand trial, prosecutors might try to lay out ways in which the United States believes Huawei is tied to the Chinese Communist Party and various state agencies, and highlight potential security compromises related to that.

The National Security Agency breached Huawei servers years ago in an effort to investigate its operations and its ties to Chinese security agencies and the military.


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