A woman outside a Huawei shop in Beijing, China, December 2018
Thomas Peter/REUTERS

It’s not been a great few weeks for Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant and one of Beijing’s “national champion” tech firms. On December 1, Canadian authorities in Vancouver arrested the company’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, at the behest of the United States. On January 11, news broke that Polish officials had arrested a Huawei employee on espionage charges. On January 28, the U.S. Justice Department unveiled indictments accusing the company of systematically violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and stealing trade secrets from its U.S. business partner T-Mobile. 

The arrest of Meng came just as Washington and Beijing reached a 90-day truce to halt their recent tit-for-tat escalation of tariffs while trade talks continued. This timing—and U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that he could use Meng as a bargaining chip in the negotiations—prompted an outcry from Chinese officials, who painted her arrest as

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  • ROBERT WILLIAMS is a senior research scholar and lecturer at Yale Law School, where he serves as executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center. 
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