Chinese state-run media on Friday condemned the arrest in Canada of a top executive of telecoms giant Huawei on a US extradition request as a “despicable rogue’s approach” to contain Chinese high-tech ambitions.
The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, has angered the Chinese government and raised concerns that it could disrupt a trade war truce between the world’s two biggest economies.
“The Chinese government should seriously mull over the US tendency to abuse legal procedures to suppress China’s high-tech enterprises,” said the nationalist tabloid Global Times in an editorial.
“Obviously, Washington is resorting to a despicable rogue’s approach as it cannot stop Huawei’s 5G advance in the market,” it said.
The China Daily warned that “containing Huawei’s expansion is detrimental to China-US ties.”
US authorities have not disclosed the charges she faces following a publication ban sought by Meng, but “one thing that is undoubtedly true and proven is the US is trying to do whatever it can to contain Huawei’s expansion in the world simply because the company is the point man for China’s competitive technology companies,” the daily said.
Though China’s technology sector is still reliant on certain US exports like microchips, Beijing wants to transform the country into a global tech leader — with a technological prowess rivalling the United States — in a plan dubbed “Made in China 2025”.
Huawei is one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment and services providers. Its products are used by carriers around the world, including in Europe and Africa.
But its US business has been tightly constrained by worries it could undermine American competitors and that its cellphones and networking equipment, used widely in other countries, could provide Beijing with avenues for espionage.
Australia, New Zealand and Britain have followed suit this year by rejecting some of the company’s services over security concerns.
Chinese netizens have criticised Meng’s arrest on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, where online trolls sometimes deliberately incite nationalist fervour or pro-government stances.
Some users viewed the incident as part of the trade war — and a broader conspiracy to keep down China’s technological development.
“One of the most important reasons why the US started the trade war was to attack China’s technology sector and its ‘Made in China 2025’ plan,” wrote one Weibo user.
The goal is to keep China stuck in “low-end industries and force China into the middle-income trap.”
The detention of Meng appears to be a “game of politics”, wrote another user.
The Huawei executive’s arrest follows a US probe into the company’s alleged violations of Iran sanctions.
Earlier this year, another Chinese tech firm ZTE nearly collapsed after Washington banned US companies from selling crucial hardware and software components to it for seven years, though the ban was lifted after it agreed to pay a $1 billion fine.