Huawei CFO arrest outrages China and rattles markets

Huawei CFO arrested in Vancouver as U.S. seeks extradition: Justice Department

Almost every company on the FTSE suffered losses as a global sell-off continued after the arrest of a top executive from Chinese technology giant Huawei sparked fears of an escalation in the US-China trade war.

Sources told Reuters in April that USA authorities have been investigating Huawei, the world's largest telecoms equipment maker, since at least 2016 for allegedly shipping us -origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of USA export and sanctions laws.

China urged Canada and the United States to "clarify" the reason for Meng's arrest and demanded her release.

Huawei, which overtook Apple as the world's number two smartphone maker this year, said it was unaware of any wrongdoing by Meng and was provided "very little information" about the charges.

What do we know about the arrest?

The nations are engaged in a trade war that has seen both impose duties of billions of dollars on one another's goods.

The arrest will not help the 90-day tariff truce the nations agreed after President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met at the G20.

What has Canada said about the arrest?

The ministry said the U.S. is seeking her extradition and she faces a bail hearing on Friday, adding it could not provide further details due to a publication ban that was sought by Meng, whose father, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is a former Chinese People's Liberation Army engineer.

It said it could not say more as Ms Meng had sought a ban on the publication of details and this had been ordered by the courts.

What could be behind it?

United States media have reported that Huawei is under investigation for potential violations of United States sanctions against Iran.

According to USA officials, however, the arrest of Meng had been planned for some time, and was something of an open secret in the Trump administration.

U.S. national security officials have said Huawei poses a security risk due to its alleged close links to the Chinese government. One of those people is Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), who said the USA "can't sit on the sidelines" while China undermines national security with its actions.

Although China is likely to "understand" that Canada is under pressure from the USA, the Chinese will have "special concerns that the arrest took place on Canadian soil", said Paul Evans, at the University of British Columbia's Institute of Asian Research.

"I do think.the timing has a bearing on those talks in particular because Huawei is perhaps the most successful global company in China", said Mr Campling.

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Meng Wanzhou aka Sabrina or Cathy meng serves as CFO and deputy chairwoman of Huawei's board.

In a statement, it said it had complied with "all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU".

Brock University professor Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat who had served two postings in China, said Beijing was convinced the US administration had pressured Canada to go ahead with the arrest.

A statement from the Chinese embassy in Canada was far angrier.

Meng Wanzhou was detained at Vancouver airport on Saturday on an extradition request from the US.

Ms Meng is the company's chief financial officer and the founder's daughter.

Why is Huawei a concern to the West?

Britain's largest mobile provider BT announced Wednesday it was removing Huawei's telecommunications equipment from its 4G cellular network, after the MI6 foreign intelligence service chief singled out the company as a potential security risk.

Other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, have also followed the case.

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse praised the move and said that it was "for breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran".

Hong Kong-listed ZTE, which was subject to a United States banning order earlier his year over security fears before that was reduced to a massive fine, was nearly five percent down. A ban on US component purchases, such as the one temporarily imposed on ZTE, would be devastating, but there is no immediate reason to suggest that will happen.

U.S. leaders also worry that Beijing is using the growth of Chinese business overseas to gain strategic leverage.

Although there are some waivers, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the US will "aggressively" target any firm or organisation "evading our sanctions".

What are the Iran sanctions?

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