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Curb Your Huawei Enthusiasm: 5G Edition

Is the US protecting its share of the 5G rollout market?

Meng Wanzhou, CFO and daughter of the founder of Huawei, a leading global telecommunications technology firm based in Shenzhen, China, has been arrested - released on bail - on the grounds that Huawei is circumventing US sanctions on Iran, allegedly.

Canada’s move to arrest Ms. Wanzhou on behalf of the US, without the foreknowledge of either Trudeau or Trump, seems to come out of the blue. As such it is time to consider what motivates the US to temporarily risk its trade-talks with China.

On a strategic level, the US hegemony is being threatened by China’s OBOR - the One Belt One Road initiative - an infrastructure project spanning three continents. On a tactical level, the reason seems to be the protection of the US 5G rollout market, think AT&T; just remember, that in the past the US did wage actual wars over sugar, bananas and, yes, it is even considering going to war over pistachios.


Shotgiant

Slandering Huawei and ZTE goes back to least 2012 when the US House Intelligence Committee headed by Chairman Mike Rogers accused Huawei and ZTE of colluding with the Chinese government to use their products for spying.

Pete Pachal, Tech Editor of Mashable, thinks it is ironic, since „the only known hacking that we know that’s related to Huawei wasn’t done by the Chinese government, it was done by the NSA.”

Pachal refers to internal NSA documents dated May 2012, made public by whistleblower Snowden. 

The NSA created a programme called ‚Shotgiant’, it’s purpose was to create „backdoors in Huawei networking equipment to monitor communications around the world and find ties between Huawei and the China’s People’s Liberation Army.”

By May 2018 the US banned the sale of Huawei phones on military bases around the world.

Since this was not enough, the intelligence chiefs of thefive-eyespushed for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou following a July 17th, 2018 lobster lunch.

Although, elements of the US government are, probably, the aggressor here, Colonel Larry Wilkerson assumes, that Huawei has probably done a lot worse than challenging US sanctions with Iran.

The US has just recently broken international law by withdrawing from JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). After all, international „executive agreements are just next to treaty law”, said Wilkerson in his interview with The Real News, „In my opinion Trump violated international law and domestic law, when he violated the nuclear agreement with Iran”.

Sanctions

The UN Charter stipulates, that only the United Nations Security Council can impose economic sanctions on a nation. The last time sanctions have been imposed on Iran by the UN was Resolution 2231 in 2015, which culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that the US pulled out of.

Christopher Black, an international criminal lawyer, wrote, that “Article 2 of the [Extradition Treaty between Canada and the United States] requires that Canada can only act on such a request [to detain Wanzhou once she arrived in Vancouver] if, and only if, the offence alleged is also an offence by the laws of both contracting parties. But the unilaterally imposed and illegal sanctions placed against Iran by the USA, are not punishable acts in Canada and even in the USA the ‚sanctions’ are illegal as they are in violation of the UN Charter.”

Article 4 (1) (iii) of the Canada International Extradition Treaty with the United States states:

“Extradition shall not be granted in any of the following circumstances:

When the offense in respect of which extradition is requested is of a political character, or the person whose extradition is requested proves that the extradition request has been made for the purpose of trying to punish him (or her) for an offense of the above-mentioned character. If any question arises as to whether a case comes within the provisions of this subparagraph, the authorities of the Government on which the requisition is made shall decide.”

Truedeau is responsible for the illegal arrest of Wanzhou, Black concludes, because his government had to consider the US request.

The 5G market

Many wonder whether the United States is really just looking for a way to control the 5G market, especially the rollout of the infrastructure. European players who have previously considered using Huawei’s solutions are now reconsidering their options. Deutsche Telekom declared last week “Deutsche Telekom takes the global discussion about the security of network elements from Chinese manufacturers very seriously.” and that the company is „re-evaluating” its procurement strategy. Similarly, UK’s top wireless provider BT Group announced two weeks ago, that it would strip Huawei equipment from existing networks and would not use the firm for 5G networks. But, not everyone is convinced, Arne Schönbohm, the president of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), said: “For such serious decisions as a ban you need evidence”. Huawei, for example, has opened a „security lab” in Bonn in which customers can inspect Huawei products and their source codes. This is more than can be said of other firms.

So did the five eyes nations - US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada - detain Meng Wanzhou to curb Huawei’s control of the 5G telecoms market?

Retaliation

Via Global Times, the government of the PRC is articulating its willingness to cripple Canada through a decrease in Chinese tourism to Canada and decreased demand for Canadian export commodities such as plants, wood pulp, wood articles, automotive products and ores.

So, Huawei is accused of, allegedly, spying on its end-users, and wanting to erect a 5G control grid on behalf of the Chinese Communist government. Furthermore, it is accused of, allegedly, circumventing US sanctions on Iran (Huawei has even considered rebuilding Syria’s telecommunications infrastructure). Whichever combination has peeved the United States more (or war-hawk-cum-Chuck-Norris John Bolton) Canada will probably be the first one to pay for detaining Meng Wanzhou.

„I am not worried about US-China relations, they will survive.” Wilkerson believes, „I am concerned how we wield the sanctions… in the world.” said Wilkerson, he is also worried about the steadily growing sentiment to de-dollarize trade, and Congress is the most guilty party to this because, their only response is to put sanctions on whoever doesn’t agree with them: „This is not the way to be doing business in the world.”

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