Thursday 17 January 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US authorities are on the verge of opening a criminal investigation that could lead to the indictment of Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Sky News said the newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that the US Department of Justice was considering allegations of Huawei's theft of trade secrets from its US partners, including a T-Mobile smart phone scanner.
The move is expected to heighten tensions between the United States and China, which began after the arrest in Canada of Meng Wanchu, financial director of Huawei, on the basis of a US memo.
The case of Ming Wangzhou, under house arrest awaiting trial, has also raised tension in China-Canada relations.
China has detained Canadians since Ming's arrest and sentenced a third to death, in steps observers see as attempts by Beijing to pressure Ottawa.
Huawei, the world's second-largest smart phone manufacturer and the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, has been under scrutiny for years in the United States over suspicions of alleged links with the Chinese government.
Huawei founder Rene Qingfai emerged from the shadows on Tuesday in a rare interview with several media outlets, involving his giant company in spying for the Chinese government.
The bickering comes amid President Donald Trump's efforts to increase industrialization on US soil and impose high tariffs on Chinese goods for what he sees as unfair trade practices on the part of Beijing.
According to technical and economic sites, US actions are aimed only at supporting Apple, the maker of iPhone phones after retreating to third place in the world behind Samsung and Huawei, and US companies are generally concerned about the dominance of Chinese on the technology of the fifth generation communications.
US lawmakers have passed a bill banning the export of US spare parts and components to Chinese telecom companies that violate US export control or sanctions laws, targeting Huawei and ZTE.
"Huawei is an information gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party, its founder and its chief was an engineer of the People's Liberation Army (PLA)," said Republican Senator Tom Coton, one of the sponsors of the bill.
"Huawei and ZTE + are two sides of a single coin. The two companies have repeatedly violated US laws and are a major threat to US national security and must be held accountable," said Sen. Chris van Hollen in the same statement.