170 V O L . 7 7 P A R T 2 M A R C H 2 0 1 9 THE ADVOCATE
arrested on “all kinds of flimsy charges” is hardly tit for tat. Retaliation?
Sure. Tit for tat? No. And yet the expression “tit for tat” is still getting
bandied about in news reports about the seemingly ever-deteriorating
Huawei Technologies is a telecommunications company that develops
communications networks and sells consumer goods. It generates over
US$90 billion in annual revenues through its global business in more than
70 countries. It serves 45 of the 50 largest telecom operators and ranks 72nd
on the Forbes list of Fortune 500 companies. Meng Wanzhou, so the story
goes, dropped out of high school and started working for Huawei on the
company’s switchboard. From there she moved up in the company (answering
phones, typing and running trade shows) to eventually becoming the
chief financial officer and deputy secretary of the biggest “private company”
in China. It may have helped that her father, Ren Zhengfei, is the
company’s president. He has a personal net worth of US$3.4 billion and is
not only an ex-officer of the People’s Liberation Army, but is also the son of
one of Chairman Mao’s closest comrades. In other words, Meng Wanzhou is
the heiress apparent to one of China’s most profitable and advanced hi-tech
companies with deep connections to the Communist Party of China.
Huawei Technologies is a leader in 5G technology and is currently the
second-largest smartphone maker in the world (after Samsung). There is
also widespread concern among the “Five Eyes” of Canada, New Zealand,
Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. that technology introduced by Huawei will
be used as a sort of Trojan horse enabling China to expand its spying practices.
Huawei, of course, denies that it acts for the Chinese state. Nevertheless,
the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and France have all taken
steps to exclude Huawei from the 5G networks they are developing. Canada
and Germany are still looking into the matter.
It is in this context that on December 1, 2018, the RCMP, acting on a
request made by U.S. justice officials, and pursuant to international treaty
obligations, arrested Meng while she was waiting for a flight at Vancouver
International Airport. The U.S. alleges that Meng committed fraud by lying
to American banks about Huawei’s ties to a telecommunications firm doing
business in Iran. That business, claims the U.S., was in breach of U.S. sanctions
on Iran. The U.S. wants Meng extradited to the U.S. for trial.
After a three-day bail hearing at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver
and a great deal of attention from the international media (huddled mostly
at the corner of Nelson and Hornby in the pouring rain), Meng was out on
a $10 million bail that required her to surrender her passport, wear a GPS
ankle bracelet and pay for her own 24/7 security detail. Meng’s counsel