A top Huawei executive was arrested in Canada at the behest of US authorities, who accused her of bypassing US sanctions on Iran through a fraudulent scheme. This came on the heels of reports that Washington was pushing its allies to abandon the use of Huawei, at a time when US-China relations are marred by a large-scale tariff spat.
John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington is concerned about the use of Chinese-made telecom equipment in sensitive sectors, Reuters reported on Thursday.
“We are all concerned about theft of intellectual property and Chinese telecoms companies that are being used by China for intelligence-gathering purposes,” said a senior US official with knowledge of the talks, which took place over the weekend.
The official told reporters that the White House doesn’t want anything to prevent it from sharing sensitive information with Israel, in a reference to the concerns about possible security breaches and growing Chinese involvement in Israel amid strained US relations with Beijing.
The United States has been acting tough on Chinese firms under the Trump administration; his crackdown particularly affected Huawei and ZTE.
READ MORE: Japan Gov’t Agencies to Stop Using Huawei, ZTE Over Security Concerns — Reports
It emerged late last month that Donald Trump may ban US companies from using equipment made by Huawei and ZTE already in January. Such a decree could be signed under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows the president to regulate trade in response to a national emergency that threatens the country.
This came after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in early December due to an extradition request issued by the US, which suspects her of committing fraud to bypass unilateral US sanctions targeting Iran.
Days after the arrest, two Canadian citizens, a businessman and a former diplomat, were detained in China; while Beijing has made no link between Meng’s arrest and the detentions, some believe that they were made as a retaliatory step.
The Wall Street Journal reported in November that the US had been urging its allies, including Germany, Italy and Japan, to drop the use of Huawei due to security concerns — something observers consider a bit of a “stretch”.
FBI Director Christopher Wray suggested last May that Huawei might provide the capacity for the Chinese government to maliciously modify or steal information and carry out “undetected espionage”.
Huawei, for its part, pledged that it would continue building competitiveness in creating 5G networks despite the crisis of confidence from the West and allegations that the tech company had been linked to the Chinese government.