Huawei Arrest and Chinese-American Relations: What’s Left

Tensions are higher than ever between China and the United States after Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei, a large technology company, was arrested in Canada. On December 1, Wanzhou was arrested over allegations that Huawei was violating U.S. sanctions on Iran by telling financial companies that a subsidiary of Huawei was a separate company. This arrest, which came at a very sensitive time, has caused many to question the real intent behind Wanzhou’s detention. The arrest comes just as Donald Trump and Xi Jingping, the General Secretary of China’s Communist Party, reached a 90-day truce regarding the so-called trade war. However, after this arrest, relations between the United States and China seem more strained than ever. Now many are questioning whether the arrest was a means for the United States to increase pressure on China during the trade negotiations.

Although this arrest is not directly about the trade war, it comes at a time of immense tensions between the two countries. Furthermore, it could make discussions regarding trade between the U.S. and China much more controversial. However, the reality that this political issue brings up is thought to be less about the trade war and more about restricting China from gaining technological leadership. Many people believe that the U.S. feared the technological strength of China and made the arrest in order to prevent the country from getting stronger. Indeed, we have seen many tech giants such as AT&T, Verizon and Best Buy working with the U.S. government to shut out Huawei products, thereby preventing U.S. citizens from using them, according to Bloomberg.

Huawei represents the growth of China and their upcoming independence from their previous reliance on U.S. supplies. Although it may seem to many that the timing of the arrest of Wanzhou is purely coincidental, the Chinese government views it as a means of reducing their technological power. This is mainly because the U.S. government has not come forward to address Wanzhou’s arrest directly.

There are many potential threatening actions the Chinese could take to reduce the power of U.S. technology companies. China has also made statements to Canada, according to CNN, saying to “release the detainee immediately and earnestly protest the person’s legal and legitimate rights and interests, otherwise it will definitely have serious consequences.” This statement displays the impact that this situation has had on ties between China and the U.S. as well as between China and Canada. It also makes trade negotiations between China and the U.S. much more contentious. The impact of these arrests should not be underestimated, as Wanzhou and Huawei represent the growth of China, and Wanzhou’s detainment will cause economic and social contention between the U.S. and China.

Contact Rachel Gunders at [email protected].