Huawei and the long arm of the law

The stoush between Beijing and Washington over Chinese telco Huawei shows that countries no longer compete only by using military or economic might. ‘Law enforcement power’—the use of a country’s internal law and justice systems to advance its foreign policy—is an increasingly visible tool of national power, and both China and the US are enthusiastic adopters. The way each country wields the tool has thrown into sharp relief the differences between the two countries’ justice systems and their broader national strategies. It’s also a development that Australia should be watching and seeking to learn from.

In recent months, China has shown an unprecedented willingness to co-opt its domestic law institutions to serve its foreign policy interests. Last December, in a tit-for-tat reaction to Canada’s arrest of Huawei finance chief Meng Wengzhou, Chinese law enforcement detained two Canadian citizens. Its courts then unexpectedly retried a Canadian drug offender and sentenced him to death. The message is clear: release Meng, or the safety of your citizens can’t be assured in China.

America is also using its law enforcement institutions to push back against China’s rule-flouting and economic aggression. Canada arrested Meng in response to an extradition request from the US. In late January, the US Department of Justice unsealed two indictments that allege serious criminal misconduct by Huawei, Meng and other senior Huawei executives. In over 50 pages of detailed, publicly available material, the DOJ laid a total of 23 charges, including theft of trade secrets, fraud and money laundering. ..Read More..

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