(National Sentinel) Espionage: On Wednesday, news broke that Canadian authorities had arrested Meng Wanzhou, 46, the chief financial officer of mega-Chinese telecom Huawei, the largest in the world, as she was changing planes in Vancouver.
As Fox Business reported, authorities picked her up “as part of a U.S. investigation into an alleged scheme by Huawei to use the global banking system to avoid American sanctions against Iran.” Meng, other reports noted, is the chief financial officer for the company, so on the surface at least, it makes sense that she would be targeted by authorities.
Subsequent reporting noted that Weng was detained in Canada at the behest of the U.S. government. Initial reporting — by us and by others — suggested that it was a Deep State operation aimed at embarrassing POTUS Donald Trump since the arrest was made as he dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
And while the Deep State certainly has an interest in undermining the president, there have been reports since the arrest that suggest this may have been a counter-espionage operation instead.
Initial reports claimed that POTUS Trump did not know about the arrest beforehand. On Thursday, Peter Navarro, the assistant to the president on trade and manufacturing policy, said as much.
At the time NewsTarget reported:
It defies belief to think that the Justice Department was not aware of the gravity of the situation or the timing of the arrest, though Navarro played his part in the interview with Regan and blew it off as ‘things that happen in a democracy.’
The point is, Regan is correct: In a normal situation, this is a case the president most definitely should have known about — and would have, if his name wasn’t Trump.
But maybe it was a “normal” situation, and Navarro was merely playing a part. He did say during the same interview on a number of occasions that the Justice Department is “independent” of the Executive Branch and often does things without notifying the president.
That doesn’t pass the smell test; we’re not talking about the arrest of MS-13 gang bangers or a white-collar crime, we’re talking about a major international incident.
Consider: The president’s national security adviser, John Bolton, has since admitted in interviews this week that he knew about the arrest in advance; Bolton would not have allowed the president to be embarrassed on the world stage.
Also, notice how the president has not turned to Twitter to denounce the arrest or condemn anyone for attempting to undermine his trade negotiations with Beijing. So it’s hard to believe that POTUS did not know the arrest was forthcoming.
Which means the arrest looks like it was timed to coincide with the Trump-Xi summit — to send Beijing a message that the Trump administration has thrown down a gauntlet regarding China’s continued theft of U.S. intellectual property, which many believe is the real reason POTUS has implemented his tariff regime.
The Wall Street Journal notes:
When President Trump first threatened to levy major tariffs on China, business leaders worried the administration was using the wrong weapon on the right target.
It wasn’t the flood of washing machines coming in and the trickle of Fords going out that raised the ire of America’s CEOs. They wanted something done about counterfeiting, allegations that the Chinese were stealing U.S. intellectual property and investment rules Beijing leans upon that force technology transfers.
Getting China to play by the rules has proven tough over past decades. International bodies—such as the World Trade Organization—have insufficient power. Export controls and indictments are tools to address theft, but they work only in specific situations and can require cooperation from U.S. companies that may be reluctant to rock the boat.
It’s becoming clear Mr. Trump’s prolonged tit-for-tat trade fight may represent American business’s best shot at addressing those long-standing grievances.
“Calling the abuser an abuser to their face is the first step,” Basheer Junjua, chief executive of San Francisco software development firm Calculi, told the paper.
There’s more, and it goes to the heart of why Huawei, via Meng, was targeted.
Whether or not Huawei has been violating U.S. sanctions against Iran is one thing, though a federally appointed official at HSBC Bank, which is based in London, spotted suspicious transactions involving the telecom and alerted the U.S. government.
But U.S. intelligence agencies have been saying for at least a year that Huawei represents a grave national security threat to the U.S. and allies.
As CNBC noted this week:
In February, the Director of National Intelligence alongside the heads of the FBI, CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency testified before lawmakers on potential security risks posed by Chinese telecommunication companies.
“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” FBI Director Chris Wray told the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.
“It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage,” Wray added.
In the pre-Trump era, when the House Intelligence Committee wasn’t politicized by Democrats, the panel issued a report in 2012 outlying the Chinese telecom/espionage threat. The report noted:
The United States should view with suspicion the continued penetration of the U.S. telecommunications market by Chinese telecommunications companies. The United States Intelligence Community (IC) must remain vigilant and focused on this threat. The IC should actively seek to keep cleared private sector actors as informed of the threat as possible.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) must block acquisitions, takeovers, or mergers involving Huawei and ZTE given the threat to U.S. national security interests. Legislative proposals seeking to expand CFIUS to include purchasing agreements should receive thorough consideration by relevant Congressional committees.
U.S. government systems, particularly sensitive systems, should not include Huawei or ZTE equipment, including in component parts. Similarly, government contractors – particularly those working on contracts for sensitive U.S. programs – should exclude ZTE or Huawei equipment in their systems.
The New Zealand government, along with the U.S. and Australia, have denied Huawei access to 5G networks. The other two Five Eyes members Canada and Britain are expected to follow suit. Japan has already done so as well.
James Andrew Lewis, a former foreign service officer in the State and Commerce departments and currently a vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan research organization in Washington, told the Wall Street Journal that his organization is preparing a report on whether U.S. companies can develop 5G independent of Chinese parts from companies like Huawei.
He said companies like China’s Huawei or ZTE Corp. “can’t make products without U.S. technology.” Asked if Western firms pull off 5G without Chinese partners, he said,“The answer is yes, but it is going to cost a lot more.”
It’s looking more like what happened this past week involving Meng and Huawei was not something nefariously perpetrated to undermine POTUS Trump’s trade talks with Xi, but to strengthen the president’s negotiating position by sending a clear message: Washington will no longer tolerate Chinese espionage activities via commercial endeavors.
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