US leaders react to Huawei CFO arrest: 'A threat to our national security'

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Arrest of Huawei CFO fuels trade concerns

MarketWatch Tech Editor Jeremy Owens on the fallout from the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

The arrest of a senior Huawei telecoms executive in Canada this week brought the Chinese company under international scrutiny, drew the ire of American leaders and sent stocks plummeting over fears that a U.S-China trade deal could be reneged amid newly inflamed tensions.

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Meng Wanzhou, 46, was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 and faces extradition to the U.S. Although the specific charge or charges against the daughter of Huawei’s founder were not disclosed, the U.S. is investigating the company for possibly violating American trade sanctions against Iran.

According to Reuters, she was arrested as part of an U.S. investigation into an alleged scheme by Huawei to use HSBC for possible illegal dealings involving Iran, circumventing U.S. sanctions.

Sen. Mark Warner:

The Virginia Democrat said in a statement on the arrest that there’s “ample evidence” to suggest Huawei is not independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party.

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"It has been clear for some time that Huawei, like ZTE, poses a threat to our national security,” he said. “Now we know that Huawei, like ZTE, has violated U.S. sanctions law. It's my hope that the Trump administration will hold Huawei fully accountable for breaking sanctions law, as it failed to do in the case of ZTE."

Warner is the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sen. Marco Rubio:

Rubio slammed the company as an arm of the Chinese government that he said is used to spy on other governments, calling for the extradition of Wanzhou to the U.S.

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“Their companies are not like ours,” he said. “Apple won’t even give the FBI a way to crack a phone in the middle of a terrorist investigation. These Chinese companies are state-supported and state-controlled. They may have on paper independence, but if the Chinese government asks them to do something, they have to do it, by law.”

Sen. Ted Cruz:

In a tweet, the Texas Republican slammed Huawei as a “Communist Party spy agency thinly veiled as a telecom company.”

“Its surveillance networks span the globe & its clients are rogue regimes such as Iran, Syria, North Korea & Cuba. The arrest of Huawei’s CFO Wanzhou Meng in Canada is both an opportunity & a challenge,” he wrote.

John Bolton:

President Trump’s national security adviser told NPR during a sit-down interview that he was aware of the arrest while he was having dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“This is something that we get from the Justice Department,” he said. “And these kinds of things happen with some frequency. We certainly don’t inform the President on every one of them.”

He also said the U.S. government has been “concerned” about Huawei potentially stealing American intellectual property -- an issue that’s been a centerpiece of the U.S-China trade disputes.

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