The big story all week was the detention by the Canadian authorities in Vancouver of the CFO of Huawei at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, which wants her extradited to the United States to face charges relating to alleged infractions of U.S. sanctions and related financial transactions.
Ms Meng is not just your normal company CFO, however, as we discovered when the Chinese Foreign Ministry took the extraordinary step of calling in the ambassadors of both Canada and the United States to condemn the step and threatening Canada particularly with dire consequences if she was not released.
Huawei has been in the news for weeks now with people in various jurisdictions, including Australia, the United States, Japan, UK and elsewhere, questioning whether Huawei should be given the opportunity participate in 5G network build-out given its possibly close ties with certain sections of China’s administration. The Foreign Ministry’s action provided an answer to those concerns.
Ms Meng was released on bail, which is fair enough. For her to do a runner would be unbelievably damaging to Huawei’s reputation and chance of transcending this moment. Trump said he would throw Ms Meng into the mix in terms of the US-China trade talks, but then again this is, at least formally, a justice system issue. And the president’s relationship with American judges is not exactly full of bonhomie.
Huawei’s European head, meanwhile, pledged to do “anything” to assuage concerns. Anything is a pretty broad offer, so why not accept it? On top of the ambassador meetings, it is reported that the Chinese authorities have also detained two Canadian citizens, apparently as a tit-for-tat. We’ll see how that approach works.
Just briefly summarizing developments as above is mind-boggling. All we are sure of at this point is that it is all likely to get a lot weirder still before it fades away.
Have a great weekend.