TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – With only days before trade talks are set to resume, and with barely a month left in Trump’s 90-day trade war “armistice,” the U.S. on Jan. 28 released a number of criminal indictments targeting China’s flagship telecom company, Huawei.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang responded to the charges by claiming that the U.S. is using state power to wage an “unreasonable crackdown” on Huawei, targeting “legitimate operations” of Chinese enterprises. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology called the charges “unfair and immoral.”
Geng did not indicate whether China would take any retaliatory measures. He did ask the U.S. to drop the case against Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, and urged the U.S. not to continue “walking further down a wrong path.”
Categorically denying that Huawei is guilty of any wrongdoing, Geng pled with the U.S. authorities to treat Chinese businesses objectively and fairly.
Huawei has likewise issued a statement denying that it or any of its affiliates have “committed any of the asserted violations of U.S. law set forth in each of the indictments.” Huawei also claims that it is “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng," whose next appearance before a Canadian court is set for Feb. 6.
China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang (Associated Press Photo)
Several of the DOJ indictments unsealed in Brooklyn, New York, specifically target Meng for financial fraud. Meng and Huawei are charged with deceiving financial institutions to circumvent U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. The criminal charges also include “money laundering, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.”
In addition to financial crimes, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said there were “troubling allegations” that Huawei has “attempted to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence and by moving potential government witnesses back to China.”
With relations between China and the U.S. already sour over trade, and with the approaching extradition of Meng from Canada, the new criminal charges will create an even more hostile environment for the next round of potential negotiations, which are set for Wednesday, Jan. 30 in Washington, reports AP.
Whitaker also indicated in his statement to the press, that the work which led to the indictments was the result of over a year’s worth of investigation.
Despite the tensions involving Huawei and Meng, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he expects “significant progress” at the upcoming meeting led by himself, and Chinese envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, reports the Guardian.
In addition to problems in North America, Huawei is also running into roadblocks in Australia and Europe this week.
In Europe, the Chinese envoy to the European Union, Zhang Ming, has called the scrutiny of Huawei’s activity in Europe “very irresponsible” and threatened “serious consequences to global economic and scientific cooperation” if Huawei is shut out of Europe. This prompted French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau, on Monday, to call for a united European response in confronting Huawei, reports Reuters.
In Australia, telecommunications company TPG announced on Tuesday that it was scrapping plans to develop a new mobile phone network in the country because of security concerns related to Huawei’s involvement, which have made the project "no longer viable," reports AFP.
This follows news of Canada recently signing a deal to provide a US$30 million research grant to Finland’s Nokia to develop 5G in the country, signaling a likely abandonment of any partnership with Huawei to develop Canada’s forthcoming 5G wireless network.
Among the "Five Eyes" intelligence community, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, have already banned Huawei from national 5G development projects. Britain is also reportedly planning to block Huawei from central aspects of its next-generation wireless network project, according to Reuters.
(Associated Press Photo)