Perhaps no corporate executives will applaud the US and Canada for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou. International business disputes are usually handled in a different way. Even in cases involving the unilateral sanctions of the US against Iran, people expected fines. The most serious example of sanctions was the fine announced by the US Department of Commerce in April against ZTE.
In the absence of any warning, the US suddenly instructed Canada to arrest Meng and demanded her extradition. Such a move was far beyond people's imagination about the risks of being an executive for an international company. Although the US reiterated that the incident is only an isolated judicial case, people generally think the arrest is linked to the country's long-term suppression of Huawei.
It was the very first time for business and technological competition to be turned into a sudden strike on an opponent's top executive. Many including Bloomberg Opinion columnist Joe Nocera described the arrest as "kidnapping." If the US insists on Meng's extradition, it will become an epoch-making evil in international business, tantamount to opening Pandora's box.
Some corporate executives of the US and Canada are a bit nervous about travelling to China, and their Chinese peers have a similar concern about visiting the two North American countries. China has given no signal that it would arrest business executives of the US or Canada in revenge. Nor does the US seem likely to make such an arrest regular practice. But the incident has provoked concerns in the business community. The arrest is definitely a milestone in the rising personal risk of being a corporate executive.
The US and Canada are undoubtedly abusing their judicial systems, which are strong and give them extra power. Washington should not attempt to use its domestic laws as strategic support for its commercial and diplomatic competition around the world. There is no doubt that the US actions are political, as the thin veneer of justice cannot conceal the political motives.
Other countries are at a disadvantage in legal contests against the US due to their relative weakness in judicial and legal experience. But beyond the hypocritical scheme of Washington, the sovereignty and interests of countries are more real than US legal traps. Countermeasures by other countries will surely emerge to safeguard their legal rights and dignity in all possible ways.
At the bail hearing there was much talk about judicial details, which unwittingly made many believe in the legitimacy of the process. It seemed Meng's capture was purely a legal matter to determine whether she should be freed. We believe that the bail debate took place amid the context of the US, for political and security reasons, encircling, suppressing and discriminating against Huawei.
The Canadian elites ought to understand that the case is political. As many mainstream US media have pointed out, many transnational corporations have actually violated US sanctions against Iran because of the complex international supply chain. The selective enforcement against Huawei, especially this sudden criminal arrest, constitutes a serious violation of the spirit of the law and will have a fatal impact on the global business order.
We hope that the US and Canadian authorities wake up and come up with a political determination to end this wrong approach. Although Meng's case is under judicial procedure, the correct political will can influence the judicial procedure and prevent a serious mistake from developing into a cancer on world governance. We believe there is room for the US and Canada to put disputes back on track if they want.