World markets down after arrest of Huawei executive

Wanzhou Meng Huawei's chief financial officer was reportedly arrested in Canada on Saturday.   Huawei

Wanzhou Meng Huawei's chief financial officer was reportedly arrested in Canada on Saturday. Huawei

Meng Wanzhou (Sabrina Wang) is the chief financial officer at Huawei. Meng had been widely expected to one day lead the company, which her father Ren Zhengfei created. She was apprehended on December 1, and a bail hearing has been scheduled for Friday, according to the Canadian ministry.

While few details of the arrest have yet been released, the Canadian Justice Department has confirmed that Meng was sought for extradition by the US.

A source familiar with Justice Department procedures said it is unlikely the USA attorneys would have acted without consulting other agencies in pursuing the worldwide arrest. Beijing had "lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou".

Huawei, the world's biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has always been seen as a front for spying by the Chinese military or security services, whose cyber-spies are widely acknowledged as highly skilled.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell more than 3.3 per cent to its lowest level in two years.

Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Thursday that the Chinese government also wants Canadian officials to reveal the reasoning.

"The detention without giving any reason violates a person's human rights".

Brock University professor Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat who had served two postings in China, said Beijing was convinced the US administration had pressured Canada to go ahead with the arrest.

Beijing has itself frequently been accused by rights groups of rights abuses including unexplained detentions.

There had already been concerns in the United States over the security of Huawei's technology amid worries that the Chinese government could use the tech company's products to spy on Americans, an allegation the company has long denied.

The New York Times said the company had been subpoenaed by the US Commerce and Treasury Departments over alleged violations of Iran and North Korea sanctions.

U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly accused the company of being a threat to United States national security, arguing that its technology could be used for spying by the Chinese government.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton on Thursday told NPR that he knew in advance about Meng's arrest. "That could include tit for tat moves against Canadians", he said.

Reacting to Meng's arrest, Huawei said in a statement it was unaware of any wrongdoing by its executive, adding it complies with all applicable laws.

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services and Banking committees, said Huawei is an agent of China's ruling Communist Party and applauded Canada for the arrest.

Mulroney said Canada should be prepared for "sustained fury" from the Chinese and said the arrest will be portrayed in China as Canada kowtowing to Trump. The nations are engaged in a trade war that has seen both impose duties of billions of dollars on one another's goods.

Both Huawei and ZTE have not only been barred from use by US government agencies and contractors; they have also been mostly locked out of the American market.

Huawei is not the first Chinese telecoms equipment firm to face the ire of United States authorities.

Why is Huawei a concern to the West?

The dramatic arrest of a Chinese telecommunications executive has driven home why it will be so hard for the Trump administration to resolve its deepening conflict with China. Fears have been raised that the company's mobile phones and networking equipment could create powerful espionage tools for Beijing. The company was banned in August from working on Australia's high-speed 5G network.

The US has brought a number of legal cases against Chinese technology firms, with accusations such as cyber-security theft and violations of Iran sanctions. The fall in the stock prices of social media companies was preceded by the publication of Facebook's internal documents, which contained controversial information about the company providing some firms expanded access to user data, while banning others completely. Personnel on USA military bases are banned from buying equipment manufactured by the Chinese tech firms. But American officials also worry more broadly about Chinese plans for state-led industry development they worry might erode USA industrial leadership.

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