The Huawei arrest is not about trade
Robert Williams and Preston Lim
The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of one of China’s leading technology companies, isn’t part of an American strategy to pressure China on trade, said Robert Williams and Preston Lim. True, China won’t believe that. “Many in Beijing will find it impossible to see the arrest as anything but a highly coordinated U.S. campaign of aggression, or perhaps as an act of sabotage by economic nationalists within the Trump administration.” But that’s not how American government works. The Justice Department investigated Meng’s company, Huawei, for violating Iranian sanctions. The probe is part of the department’s China Initiative, “a broad-based strategy designed to counter Chinese economic espionage and a range of other national security threats.” This is about national security, and there’s no sign that the arrest was “planned and coordinated with the White House.” The charges actually make it harder for Xi Jinping, China’s president, to bend on trade demands, and will deepen “the Chinese leadership’s conviction that ‘national champion’ companies like Huawei” should avoid buying U.S. technology. U.S. trade negotiators should tell the Chinese the truth: This was a decision by career prosecutors whose actions the White House doesn’t dictate. That’s the price of having a government that follows the rule of law.