(While she has been awaiting extradition to the United States in a Vancouver mansion, though, China has detained two Canadians, in solitary accommodations and under brutal conditions, so as to force an exchange. Canada has stood with the United States and refused.)
In January, American prosecutors gained the indictment of Meng and Huawei on 23 counts, ranging from wire fraud to conspiracy to defraud the United States to stealing trade secrets. Then in May, the Department of Commerce put Huawei and 70 of its affiliates on its “Entity List,” or blacklist, which means no American company can sell them hardware, chips, software or services without special permission.
The export blacklist is to take full effect on Nov. 19, which will mean that Google, whose Android operating system sits on every Huawei phone; Microsoft, whose Windows operating system sits on every Huawei computer; and Intel, whose chips run Huawei’s 5G networks, can no longer do business with China’s biggest phone equipment company. And even foreign companies that depend on American technology are being pressured by Trump not to deploy Huawei products.
American officials believe that Huawei, in addition to violating sanctions on Iran, can install “back doors” in its equipment that Chinese intelligence can exploit, although no one has yet found any — or at least none have been publicly reported.
Which is why the Trump team is now facing challenges not only from Huawei, but also from some of the company’s biggest American suppliers, which stand to lose a huge chunk of business. Microsoft President Brad Smith told Bloomberg Businessweek on Monday that when his company presses regulators to explain their Huawei ban, “oftentimes, what we get in response is, ‘Well, if you knew what we knew, you would agree with us.’ And our answer is, ‘Great, show us what you know, so we can decide for ourselves. That’s the way this country works.’”
I have no idea who is telling the truth in this story. If Huawei really is a bad actor, let’s get the proof out there and blacklist the hell out of it. If it’s not so clear, the Trump team should at least explore Ren’s offer to see if there is a pathway for Huawei to assure American intelligence experts and demonstrate good behavior. Because Huawei is the tip of a huge iceberg.