By BARRY WEISLEDER
What does the arrest in Vancouver [on Dec. 1, 2018] of Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive with China’s tech giant Huawei, have to do with the “rule of law?” Precious little. What does it have to do with enforcing Washington’s illegal trade embargo of Iran? A bit more.
Meng is accused of committing fraud as part of a scheme to violate United States trade sanctions against Iran. She was arrested when she passed through Vancouver on her way to Mexico. U.S. officials want Ottawa to extradite her. Awaiting a decision by a Canadian judge, Meng is out on $10 million bail. The extradition procedure could take months, even years.
Meanwhile, China detained three Canadians, two of them (ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor) on dubious charges of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security” of China. No less dubious is the American agenda. U.S. President Trump openly linked the fate of Meng to winning a better trade deal with Beijing.
Washington’s efforts to punish Huawei for trading with Iran are in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 that calls on all countries to drop sanctions on Iran as part of the 2015 treaty aimed at limiting Iran from developing nuclear weapons—a treaty praised globally for reducing the risk of nuclear war.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau restored relations with Iran, and lifted economic sanctions in February 2016, overturning the policy of the previous Stephen Harper-led Conservative government. So, why knuckle under now to Trump’s rogue policy? There is no obligation in law to extradite Meng. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is blowing smoke when she claims that Canada is upholding the rule of law. It is a political decision, not a strictly legal one. And the politics cleave to imperialist ambitions to control the oil fields of the Middle East and Iran, regardless the character of the government in Tehran.
Bottom line: Should Ottawa back Trump’s bid to block Huawei from U.S. and other markets where it is making headway against American tech giants?
The answer is a resounding no. The working class has nothing to gain by backing any capitalist power against another. To that end, Labour, the NDP, and all workers’ organizations should demand an end to Ottawa’s catering to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, Asia, and beyond. The release of Meng will likely bring the detained Canadians home. It won’t quell Trump’s simmering trade war with China, but at least there would be one less state accomplice.
Huawei and military power
By GARY PORTER
Huawei is the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, recently passing Apple. The Chinese company sells over 10 per cent of the world’s smartphones. Yet its devices are effectively banned from sale in the United States due to suspicion of Chinese state involvement in the running of the company, and ties to China’s military that go right back to Huawei’s inception.
Would you be safe buying a Huawei phone? The quality of its tech is certainly compelling. The Huawei P20 Pro, for example, is widely considered to be the best camera phone on the market. But U.S. consumers may never get to own one.
The Chinese military is an important Huawei customer. It serves as the company’s political patron and R&D partner, according to Timothy Heath of the Rand Corporation. “Huawei continues to receive contracts from the Chinese military to develop dual use communications technologies. In particular, it is helping develop 5G networks with military applications in mind,” Heath asserts.
Of course, exactly the same thing happens in the U.S. Telecom manufacturers collaborate with the U.S. military and spy agencies to enhance digital spying, military communications, command and control and cyber war applications. The U.S. is determined to maintain its hegemony, against this powerful and highly competent Chinese competitor.
To put it another way, the United States insists on being the one entity that spies on your entire life and does not want to share that capacity with powerful trade and military competitors like China.
Are Huawei devices safe from surveillance? Probably not. Are U.S. companies’ devices safe from surveillance? Definitely not. So my next phone will be a Huawei P20 Pro. If I am going to be spied upon anyway, why not get the best phone? Helping American imperialism maintain technical dominance is just not in my interest.