Huawei might be in for a rough week. Shortly after the Chinese telecom company’s chief executive warned his workers that “mediocre employees” might be laid off in the coming months, news broke that the U.S. plans to ask Canada to extradite Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou.
Canada arrested Wanzhou—who is also Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei’s daughter—at the U.S.’ request in December 2018. The arrest was ostensibly prompted by Huawei skirting U.S. sanctions on Iran, but it was also an all-too-apparent part of the looming trade war with China.
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) told The New York Times that China has been “working to creatively undermine our national security interests." Companies like Huawei and ZTE have shouldered the weight of those fears by having their equipment barred from U.S. federal agencies as well as the 5G infrastructure of several other countries.
The U.S cited similar concerns when it imposed export restrictions on Chinese DRAM makers. Meanwhile, tariffs on goods originating from China have been applied to more and more product categories, despite repeated warnings from America’s tech industry. This isn’t just about Huawei (allegedly) violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
China has grown increasingly hostile with Canada over its dealings with Huawei. The country has reportedly demanded that Wanzhou be freed, and threatened certain “repercussions” if it follows other Western countries in banning Huawei’s equipment from its 5G wireless infrastructure. A country known for being meteorologically frigid but personally friendly is now in the middle of a much bigger conflict.
The deadline for the U.S. to file an extradition request for Wanzhou is January 30; she is scheduled to appear in a Vancouver court on February 6. We expect things to get even more interesting as those dates approach.