Criminal charges against Huawei

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

News from China is slowing down with the annual lurch into Chinese New Year. But things won’t slow down too much this year. The top stories today:

  • The U.S. announced a new set of criminal charges against Huawei.

  • Canada’s ambassador to Beijing was fired after making remarks out of line with Ottawa’s official position on the Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟 case. Beijing continues to direct its rage at Canada and its citizens rather than at the U.S.

The Year of the Pig is going to be interesting.  

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

1. Criminal charges against Huawei as China fumes at Canada

CBS News reports:

The Department of Justice unveiled criminal charges against Huawei Technologies Co., accusing one of the largest telecommunications firms in China of stealing trade secrets, breaking confidentiality agreements and violating sanctions against Iran…

…Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was joined by Department of Homeland (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and several U.S. attorneys for the announcement at DOJ headquarters on Monday.

The Chinese government had not reacted by the time we completed this newsletter. Meanwhile, over the weekend, Star Vancouver deputy bureau chief Joanna Chiu reported remarks by Canada’s ambassador to China that “it would be ‘great for Canada’ if the U.S. dropped its extradition request for Huawei CFO Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟.”

  • This was the second time in the last week that the ambassador, John McCallum, had made remarks that appeared contrary to Canadian government messaging. This time, he was fired by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

  • “Speaking at a regular press briefing Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Gěng Shuǎng 耿爽 declined to comment on McCallum’s dismissal, calling it ‘an internal matter for Canada,’” reports CNN, but state media felt no such restraint.

  • “Removal of envoy part of ‘immoral’ practices” is how the state-owned China Daily headlined a brief note on McCallum’s sacking, while nationalistic rag Global Times went with more salty language:

As a Chinese folk saying goes, “You cannot live the life of a whore and expect a monument to your chastity.” Canada is a country worthy of respect, but some Canadians must be reminded that they are now refusing to face up to the moral predicament. They are against moral righteousness while deceiving themselves to believe that they can be honored as moral models.

  • The Chinese saying is “当婊子立牌坊 dāng biǎo zi lì páifāng,” which I would translate less literally as “acting shamelessly and then erecting a monument to your virtue.” This is in fact a specialty of the Global Times, a newspaper that regularly publishes articles containing distortions and made-up quotes, and had the gall to call out Joanna Chiu for her “professional ethics” in reporting the story.

  • Further signs of the chilling effects of China’s treatment of Canadians and others: China scholar Geremie Barmé gave an interview to Radio New Zealand, which it published with the title: China tensions: ‘I wouldn’t be rushing to Beijing.’ See also: No longer safe: Researcher harassed by China in her own country, in the Sydney Morning Herald, about the ongoing harassment of scholar Anne-Marie Brady.

2. The Pacific Reset — trade and tech war, day 207

We’re considering renaming our daily trade war update: Does “The Pacific Reset” make sense as a way to talk about the tensions and — hoped for by some — decoupling of the Chinese and American economies? Let us know by email at

Today’s news in brief:

  • China releases footage of ‘Guam killer’ missile in ‘clear message to US’ / SCMP
    “Adam Ni, a China researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, said the latest exercise sent ‘a clear message to the US about China’s growing missile capability, and that it can hold at risk US strategic assets, such as carriers and bases.’”

  • A tiny screw shows why iPhones won’t be ‘assembled in U.S.A.’ / NYT (porous paywall)
    “But when Apple began making the $3,000 computer in Austin, Tex., it struggled to find enough screws… In China, Apple relied on factories that can produce vast quantities of custom screws on short notice. In Texas, where they say everything is bigger, it turned out the screw suppliers were not.”

  • Trade war shutters Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua / FT (paywall)
    “U.S. sanctions against Fujian Jinhua will force the Chinese state-owned company accused of stealing trade secrets from American memory chipmaker Micron to stop production by March.”

  • In 5G race with China, U.S. pushes allies to fight Huawei / NYT (porous paywall)
    “Over the past year, the United States has embarked on a stealthy, occasionally threatening, global campaign to prevent Huawei and other Chinese firms from participating in the most dramatic remaking of the plumbing that controls the internet since it sputtered into being, in pieces, 35 years ago.”

—Jeremy Goldkorn


Our whole team really appreciates your support as Access members. Please chat with us on our Slack channel or contact me anytime at

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


  • Startup companies
    China created 97 new unicorns in 2018 / TechNode
    In China, a new unicorn — a startup valued at over $1 billion — was born every 3.8 days in 2018.

  • The stuff that makes electric vehicles go
    In the new lithium ‘Great Game,’ Germany edges out China in Bolivia / Reuters via Channel NewsAsia
    “When Germany signed a deal last month to help Bolivia exploit its huge lithium reserves, it hailed the venture as a deepening of economic ties with the South American country. But it also gives Germany entry into the new ‘Great Game,’ in which big powers like China are jostling across the globe for access to the prized electric battery metal.”

  • Electric vehicle infrastructure
    China powering up efforts to build car-charging poles / China Daily
    “China is stepping up efforts to build charging poles and thereby foster its new energy car sector, as the nation is phasing out the decade-long subsidies on such vehicles’ production and sales, according to officials.”

  • WeChat knows what you did at your company — or outside it — last summer
    Dangers of WeChat for China employers and employees / China Law Blog
    “With widespread use of WeChat in China (it is China’s leading multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app by far), both employers and employees need to be careful with what they do and say on there. Put simply, what you say or write on WeChat may be used against you in an employment dispute.”

  • Opening the domestic bond market
    S&P Global gets green light to rate domestic bonds in China / Financial Times (paywall)
    “S&P Global has won approval from Beijing to start scoring domestic bonds, becoming the first foreign credit-ratings agency to gain entry into the fast-developing Chinese market… Under the terms of its licence, S&P is authorized to rate issuers and issuances from financial institutions and corporates, structured finance bonds and renminbi-denominated bonds from foreign issuers, sometimes known as Panda bonds.”

  • The chicken feet trade
    Why China and America fight over chicken feet / Atlas Obscura
    “Today, the Chinese market is still shut to American chicken imports. But that may change soon. In the flurry of negotiations surrounding the current trade war, the poultry industry has been pushing hard for Beijing to lift the current ban.”

  • Movie business
    A look at Chinese capital behind the Oscar nominees / China Film Insider
    A short summary of recent Chinese financing of Hollywood movies.  

  • Wind and solar power
    China powers up renewable energy but some wind farms still struggle to plug into grid / SCMP
    “China’s renewable power capacity rose 12 percent in 2018 compared to a year earlier, official data showed on Monday, with the country still rolling out new projects despite transmission capacity concerns and a growing subsidy payment backlog.”

  • Negative economic signals
    China’s industrial profits shrink again in Dec on weak prices, demand / Reuters via Channel NewsAsia
    “Earnings at China’s industrial firms shrank for a second straight month in December on slowing prices and sluggish factory activity, piling more pressure on an economy in the grips of its slowest growth in nearly three decades.”
    As demand stagnates, China LED lighting giant feels the heat / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    “Driven by concern about weakening demand for light-emitting diodes from the domestic property and automotive sectors, Sanan’s Shanghai-listed stock has lost more than half of its value in the past 12 months and seen its valuation decline to record lows.”


All websites: The procuratorate arrested a small number of suspects who, under the banner of “retired soldiers,” violated the law and committed serious violent crimes. Use only the People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency, and CCTV transcripts. Without unified arrangements, do not report or post commentary, do not link it to other incidents related to retired military personnel, do not alter the title or modify excerpts. (January 26, 2019) [Chinese]



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