“If I was an American tech executive, I wouldn’t travel to China this week.”
That’s what James Lewis, a former Commerce Department official and current director of technology policy at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Axios on Wednesday after Canada arrested a top executive for China’s Huawai Technologies Co. on behalf of the U.S. government.
Lewis told Axios that “Huawei is one of the Chinese government’s pet companies,” and warned “They will retaliate and China will take hostages.”
Earlier Thursday, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou — the daughter of the telecom giant’s founder — was arrested in Vancouver and was being prepared for extradition to the U.S. to face charges of violating sanctions against Iran.
China immediately protested the arrest, and demanded Canada and the U.S. “rectify wrongdoings” and release her from custody, Bloomberg News reported.
The incident may raise tensions between the U.S. and China, just days after it appeared progress had been made to ease the ongoing trade war. U.S. stock futures and Asian stock markets fell after reports of the arrest.
The U.S. government has long worried about cybersecurity risks from Huawei equipment, and has pressed allies to stop using the company’s products. The U.S. has restricted Huawei’s business in the U.S., and earlier this year, Australia barred Huawei from its 5G mobile network, citing a security risk. In October, a Silicon Valley semiconductor startup accused Huawei of conspiring to steal its technology.
Huawei is the world’s biggest maker of telecom equipment, and the No. 2 smartphone maker in the world, surpassing Apple Inc. AAPL, -4.40% during the second quarter of 2018.
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