Friday February 22, 2019
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U.S. Sues Chinese Tech Executive Over Business Dealings With Iran

Concerns about Huawei have been growing for some time.

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A woman walks past an advertisement for Huawei at a subway station in Hong Kong. VOA

A top Chinese technology executive faces U.S. charges related to business dealings with Iran, a Canadian prosecutor said Friday, after the executive’s arrest rocked financial markets around the globe.

In a packed courtroom in Vancouver, a Canadian prosecutor argued that Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei, should be denied bail pending possible extradition to the United States because she was a flight risk. She has spent most of the past week at a women’s detention facility in a suburb of Vancouver.

The prosecutor disclosed that Meng was wanted by the United States for allegedly deceiving financial institutions about the relationship between Huawei and another tech company, SkyCom, based in Hong Kong, that is alleged to have sold U.S.-manufactured technology to Iran, in violation of U.S. trade sanctions.

In the first glimpse of the case against Meng, prosecutors alleged during the five-hour hearing that she was not truthful to U.S. banks who had asked her about links between the two firms.

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The U.S. and Canadian governments have so far said little about the Meng case.

An attorney representing Meng, David Martin, told the court “there is no evidence” that SkyCom was a subsidiary of Huawei during the period in question, in 2013 and 2014.

The bail hearing is set to resume on Monday.

If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions.

The arrest of Meng in Vancouver, at the request of the United States, surprised financial markets after Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a trade truce last weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Stocks plummeted Thursday after news came out of Meng’s arrest, which followed months of already shaky markets affected by the U.S.-China trade war.

Trump sounded a note of optimism on Friday about the trade talks with China, tweeting that “China talks are going very well!”

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The prosecutor disclosed that Meng was wanted by the United States. (IANS)

The U.S. and Canadian governments have so far said little about the Meng case. But China has demanded her release, saying she violated no laws in Canada or the United States.

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army. Chinese state media have argued that the United States is abusing the law to hurt the company’s international reputation.

Also Read: Chinese Tech Giant Huawei Announces to Bring Wireless Charging in India Next Month

However, concerns about Huawei have been growing for some time. Since 2012, the U.S. government has raised alarm about suspicions that Huawei’s hardware may have a technical back door that could be used by the Chinese government to gather intelligence.

Huawei has denied that its products pose any security risk and says it is a private company. (VOA)

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Taiwan President Announced Re- election after she Spoke Against China’s President Suggestion

Tsai indicated she plans to run for another four-year term as president.

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FILE - Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 5, 2019. VOA

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced her re-election bid this week following a bump in public polling that came after she spoke out against Chinese President Xi Jinping’s suggestion that Taiwan and China unify as one country.

She was polling at 24 percent after her party lost local elections in November. In January she was speaking out every few days against Xi’s idea and her approval ratings hit 34.5 percent by Jan. 21, according to a Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation survey.

On Wednesday, Tsai indicated she plans to run for another four-year term as president. Inspired by her jump in approval ratings, Tsai will center at least the early part of her campaign over the coming year on raising public suspicion of China, political scientists say.

“Their campaign strategy is to speak of hating China, fearing China and refusing China,” said Huang Kwei-bo, vice dean of the international affairs college at National Chengchi University. If officials reiterate these messages and they appear in the mass media, he said, “ultimately people will be affected by them.”

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the 1940s and insists that the two sides eventually unify. Most Taiwanese oppose that outcome.

 

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FILE- President of China Xi Jinping arrives for the APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Nov. 17, 2018. VOA

Opportunity to talk about China

The Chinese president’s Jan. 2 speech urging Taiwan to accept unification gave Tsai an unexpected opening to warn citizens against ties with China, political experts say.

In his remarks, Xi urged Taiwan to merge with China under a “one country, two systems” model that his government applies now to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is ruled from Beijing, but local officials make some decisions.

China has claimed Taiwan since the Chinese Civil War, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost and rebased their government in Taiwan. Tsai took office in 2016. Since then she has irked China by refusing to negotiate on the condition that both sides belong to one China.

More than 70 percent of Taiwanese say in government surveys they prefer today’s self-rule, or full legal independence from China, over unification.

In one comment since the Chinese president’s speech, Tsai warned at an impromptu news conference Wednesday against any China-Taiwan peace agreement.

“China’s military ambitions and not giving up deployment of arms against Taiwan are making the region unstable,” she said. “As China doesn’t give up weapons aimed at Taiwan and emphasizes ‘one country, two systems,’ there’s no way to negotiate equally and there can’t be any real peace.”

Knack for China issues

Tsai, as former chairwoman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and a former government official in charge of Taiwan’s China policy, knows the issue particularly well, said Lin Chong-pin, a retired strategic studies professor in Taiwan.

“This is her forte,” Lin said. “She has been immersed in it for 18 long years.”

Since 2016, China has shown displeasure with Tsai by passing military aircraft and ships near Taiwan and persuading five foreign countries to switch allegiance from Taipei to Beijing. Taiwan has just 17 allies left.

“In international relations, what she can do is limited, we all know that, but in winning the public support in Taiwan, especially on controversial issues like ‘one country, two systems,’ she’s very, very capable,” Lin said.

Her party takes a guarded view of China compared to Taiwan’s main opposition camp, which advocates that the two sides talk on Beijing’s condition.

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FILE – Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je casts his ballot at a polling station, Nov. 24, 2018, in Taipei, Taiwan. VOA

Tough campaign

According to a survey released Thursday by Taiwan television network TVBS, Tsai would take 16 percent of the vote if the presidential race were held today and she ran against non-party aligned Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je and Han Kuo-yu, opposition Nationalist Party mayor of the southern city Kaohsiung. The two mayors would get shares of more than 30 percent each, TVBS said.

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FILE – Nationalist Party’s Han Kuo-yu reacts after winning the mayoral election in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Nov. 24, 2018. VOA

Much of the public wants Tsai to stand up against China but also take stronger action on domestic economic problems, voters said in interviews in November. Among the domestic issues: low wages compared to other parts of Asia and rising costs, especially real estate.

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“She has already shown that she is against the ‘one family, two sides’ or ‘one country, two systems.’ That’s good,” said Shane Lee, political scientist with Chang Jung Christian University in Taiwan. “That will probably give her some points. But domestically there are many policies she will have to change.” (VOA)