Jan 29, 2019

Charges against Huawei escalate tensions in U.S.–China trade war

FBI Director Christopher Wray announces charges against Huawei and affiliates at the Department of Justice on Jan. 28, 2019. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department brought 23 separate charges on Monday against Huawei, China’s dominant telecommunications equipment manufacturer. The indictments cover intellectual property theft, violations of sanctions on selling equipment to Iran, and obstruction of the investigation. Sabrina Meng, daughter of Huawei’s founder, who is being held at U.S. request in Canada, was charged with fraud in misleading banks about Huawei’s business with Iran.

Why it matters: The criminal charges help validate U.S. accusations that China systematically steals valuable technology and that its companies sell sensitive equipment to repressive regimes such as Iran. Although not unexpected, they come on the eve of high-level trade negotiations in Washington with China this week, and will probably slow down the Chinese effort to close a deal.

Background: The U.S. has long insisted that China makes a habit of stealing or forcing the transfer of valuable intellectual property, and has brought charges against China in the World Trade Organization and in U.S. courts. The appropriation of sensitive technology is part of China’s long-term plans to dominate sophisticated technology sectors and displace existing leaders in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

U.S. authorities have also long suspected that Huawei equipment could be used for espionage purposes, spurring them to launch a global campaign to persuade like-minded allies to prohibit deployment of 5G networks, the next generation of telecommunications equipment.

  • Hidden sales to Iran, as alleged in yesterday’s indictments, reinforce the United States’ case that Huawei cannot be trusted with building the new networks and that its technology aids and abets authoritarian regimes in deploying the tools of repression.

What to watch: After Meng was detained in Vancouver, the Chinese reopened a settled case against an alleged Canadian drug smuggler and imposed the death sentence. Until Meng's case is settled, we should not be surprised to see other moves against U.S. and Canadian citizens. We will also find out this week if the trade negotiations founder because of Chinese ire over the Huawei charges.

Thomas J. Duesterberg is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Go deeper

Deadly clashes erupt in Delhi ahead of Trump's visit

Rival protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi, India, on Monday. Photo: Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for calm Tuesday as deadly clashes erupted in the city's northeast between supporters and opponents of India's controversial new citizenship law.

Why it matters: Per the BBC, a police officer and six civilians "died in the capital's deadliest day" since last year's passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act — which allows religious minorities but excludes Muslims from nearby countries to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted for their religion — hours before President Trump and members of the U.S. first family were due to visit the city as part of their visit to India.

Go deeper: India's citizenship bill continues Modi's Hindu nationalist offensive

South Carolina paper The State backs Buttigieg for Democratic primary

Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend Pete Buttigieg speaks at an event in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Carolina newspaper The State endorsed former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday night for the state's Democratic primary.

Why it matters: It's a welcome boost for Buttigieg ahead of Tuesday's Democratic debate in South Carolina and the state's primary on Saturday.

White House requests $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus as U.S. cases rise

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. rose to 53.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,699 people and infected more than 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health