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Photo: Pavlo Conchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The arrest and pending extradition of Huawei chief financial officer Wanzhou Meng for violating Iran sanctions may have quick, dramatic impacts in international politics and global technology sales.

Why it matters: The beleaguered Chinese electronics and telecommunications equipment firm is now facing geopolitical crises on two fronts: British BT just barred use of Huawei products in its 5G network. The arrest of Meng, the CFO and daughter of the company's founder, is a calamity on top of an already bad situation.

We may have cornered a wounded corporation. "Huawei is one of the Chinese government's pet companies," said James Lewis, director of technology policy at the CSIS think tank and a former Commerce Department official who worked on Chinese high tech policy. "They will retaliate and China will take hostages."

"If I was an American tech executive, I wouldn't travel to China this week," Lewis added.

Background: Meng was arrested in Canada and will be extradited to the United States.

  • The U.S. has investigated Huawei for export violations since 2016.
  • Huawei denies all charges. In a statement, it wrote, "The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng. The company believes the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion."

The charges echo similar charges against ZTE. Both Chinese companies manufacture tech equipment. ZTE has twice admitted to sending equipment to Iran and North Korea, ultimately settling for a $1 billion fine and organizational changes.

Huawei, like ZTE, is often accused by U.S. lawmakers of sabotaging its products to allow Chinese surveillance. Those allegations have led many nations, including the U.S., to bar the firms' equipment from use in telecommunications projects.

  • Ironically, Canada — which made the arrest — has not banned Huawei equipment.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) celebrated the arrest in an email to Axios and encouraged Canada to reverse course on permitting Huawei wares. "[Huawei] has long posed a serious risk to U.S. national security, and I continue to strongly urge Canada to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of its 5G development, introduction, and maintenance," he wrote.

Go deeper

Lawmakers reach deal on bipartisan commission to investigate Jan. 6

Speaker Pelosi outside the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House negotiators have reached an agreement on the parameters of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the "facts and circumstances" surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the House Homeland Security Committee announced Friday.

Why it matters: The formation of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission had been delayed for months, after some Republicans insisted that the scope of the investigation be expanded to include violence by far-left protesters last summer.

Elise Stefanik elected No. 3 House Republican after Liz Cheney ouster

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) on May 12. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

House Republicans voted 134-46 in a secret ballot Friday to appoint Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) as the chair of the GOP conference, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

Why it matters: Stefanik's appointment underscores how important loyalty to former President Trump remains to the Republican Party.

Retail sales flat in April after huge surge in March

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

April retail sales in the U.S. were unchanged from March, which saw a surge revised up to 10.7%, according to the latest Commerce Department report published Friday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has been entering a period of growing optimism in the wake of the vaccine rollout, falling new COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a slowly recovering labor market. Retail sales were up 51% year-over-year compared to April 2020.

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