Lawyers for Meng Wanzhou, CFO of China tech superpower Huawei, are suing the Canadian government for breaching her constitutional rights.
A new page was turned in the ongoing war between Huawei and the US and Canadian governments on Monday when lawyers for Meng Wanzhou announced that they are suing Canda.
This is the latest development in what looks like being a long-battle between one of China’s biggest companies and the two North American governments.
WHAT EXACTLY IS SHE SUING CANADA FOR?
Ms. Meng’s lawsuit was filed in British Columbia’s Supreme Court on Friday and claims damages against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the federal government for allegedly breaching her civil rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
According to Meng’s claim, CBSA officers held, searched and questioned her at the airport under false pretenses before she was arrested by the RCMP.
The suit uses words such as “unlawful” and “arbitrary” to describe her detention and states that the officers who made the arrest:
Intentionally failed to advise her of the true reasons for her detention, her right to counsel, and her right to silence.
The mention of “true reasons” could well be a nod to the suggestion that Meng’s arrest is a political stunt orchestrated by the U.S. as a means of gaining leverage in its ongoing trade war with China.
HUAWEI ON A SURGE BUT U.S. PRESSURE UNRELENTING
In the aftermath of an incredibly eventful week where Huwaei launched its new $2600 foldable 5G smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, some members of the media declared that the company ‘won Barcelona.’
In normal circumstances, this kind of comment could be considered routine and taken in the context of Huawei coming out on top thanks to the successful launch of its latest phone, but these are far from normal times for Huawei.
Last week saw the company not only wow its friends and the world’s media with its new phone on the safe ground of an industry event, but it also saw the company embark on an unprecedented PR campaign in the face of government level attacks from the U.S.
BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL
Huwai was heavily represented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as it is every year. This year was unusual in that they were not only competing against other mobile and tech companies for attention. They had the might of an actual superpower to contend with, too.
U.S. government officials were also in Barcelona with the sole intention of briefing those present on the dangers they believe come along with Huawei being at the forefront of the implementation of 5G technology.
THE U.S.’ BIG PROBLEM WITH HUAWEI
As Huawei recently passed Apple in terms of the number of mobile phones shipped in the world, you would think that Tim Cook should be more about Huawei than Donald Trump is, but this doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment.
U.S. officials aggressively attacked Huawei in Barcelona last week in a continuation of a battle that has made U.S.-China tensions worsen and which has resulted in the daughter of Huawei’s founder being arrested in Canada on the request of the U.S.
The U.S. believes that Huawei, one of China’s biggest companies, is guilty of violating sanctions, cybercrimes, and intellectual property theft. They claim the company has been carrying out these illegal practices for over a decade.
When it comes to 5G implementation, the U.S. also believe that its allies are compromising their national security by allowing Huawei to play such a key role in establishing telecoms infrastructure.
Robert Strayer, ambassador for cyber and international communications at the U.S. State Department, told reporters in Barcelona on Thursday:
The United States is asking other governments and the private sector to consider the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese information technology companies.
HUAWEI ON A DEFENSIVE OFFENSIVE
Huawei’s reaction to the attacks by the U.S. has been to enter into a PR battle for the hearts and minds of its U.S. and international audience.
Last week Huawei ran full-page advertisements in major U.S. media, such as The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.
The ads took on a rather defensive tone, asking readers not to believe everything they hear about the company, while also emphasizing how much the company would really like to get to know the U.S. public better.
And in response to the U.S. government’s claims that Huawei could act as a conduit for China in global espionage, Ren Zhengfei, Huawei founder, and father of Meng Wanzhou, had this to say:
I love my country, I support the Communist Party. But I will not do anything to harm the world.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE MENG WANZHOU?
Whether or not the charges against Huawei are politically motivated or not, the company’s CFO is the one who currently has to deal most directly with the ongoing battle.
Today’s move by her lawyers in attempting to sue Canada is an aggressive one, but it is not one that is likely to have much success.
Both the U.S. and Canada have made it very clear in recent days that they have no intention of slowing down when it comes to pressing ahead with the charges brought against Huawei.
All of this is perhaps quite surprising when it was only one week ago that there appeared to be some progress in the China-U.S. trade war.
Huawei seems to be getting used as a proxy in this war and Meng Wanzhou is the pawn that is being moved around the board.
China has offered strong support to Wanzhou and Huawei during this conflict, but it looks like it will take more than a PR blitz and a headline-stealing reaction of her lawyers for Meng Wanzhou and Huawei to resolve this fight peacefully any time soon.
The next installment of this saga will play out on Wednesday when Meng is due to appear in court in Vancouver.