Stock Selloff Continues Amid Worries Over U.S.-China Tensions

Wanzhou Meng Huawei's chief financial officer was reportedly arrested in Canada on Saturday.   Huawei

Wanzhou Meng Huawei's chief financial officer was reportedly arrested in Canada on Saturday. Huawei

The arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada on Wednesday brought the Chinese telecom giant's business practices under global scrutiny and raised questions about the state of tenuous trade negotiations between the USA and China.

The Huawei statement said Meng, who also has gone by the English names Cathy and Sabrina, was detained when she was transferring flights in Canada.

"At the request of the US side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen not violating any American or Canadian law", the Chinese Embassy in Canada said on Thursday.

This week, the interest rate on some short-term U.S. Treasury securities rose above that of longer-term instruments.

The timing of the arrest is awkward following the announcement of a US-Chinese cease-fire in a tariff war over Beijing's technology policy.

USA stocks tumbled in early trading on Thursday following a sell-off in overseas markets.

The expectation did not keep the price of oil from falling, however, as investors focused on the potential economic disruption from any escalation in the US-China trade dispute. By lunch Shanghai was 1.3 percent lower while Hong Kong was 2.6 percent off.

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A Huawei spokesperson said Meng faces unspecified charges in the Eastern District of NY.

"We can expect China to retaliate against Canada very vigorously", he said by email.

She faces a bail hearing on Friday.

Huawei, China's largest telecom equipment maker, has been under investigation into whether it had broken US trade controls to countries including Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Huawei is already under intense scrutiny from USA and other western governments about its ties to the Chinese government, driven by concerns it could be used by the state for spying. Under U.S. President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit the use of its technology. The Pentagon stopped offering Huawei's devices on US military bases citing security concerns. The Trump administration says they benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers. But American officials also worry more broadly about Chinese plans for state-led industry development they worry might erode U.S. industrial leadership.

"If someone from the United States is hoping to use threats to an individual's personal safety in order to add weight in the talks, then they have most certainly miscalculated", he said. Huawei, which sells smartphones, has always been identified by the U.S.as a threat to national security.

Bill Bishop, who writes the respected newsletter Sinocism, said in a note that "if I were a U.S. tech executive I would delay travel to China for a bit or go on vacation if based there". The company was banned in August from working on Australia's fifth-generation network.

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Huawei later said the HP equipment was ultimately not provided to Iran either by Huawei or Skycom, Reuters said.

These investigations into Huawei were first reported by the Wall Street Journal back in April 2018. Washington has previously raised concerns about the Chinese conglomerate because of its links to Beijing's government.

U.S. authorities have been probing Huawei since at least 2016 for allegedly shipping US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of United States export and sanctions laws, sources told Reuters in April. Personnel on United States military bases are banned from buying ZTE and Huawei equipment.

Huawei is regarded as far stronger commercially than ZTE.

The privately held company, based in southern China's tech hub of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, is the world's largest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies.

Huawei issued a statement saying Meng, also the company's deputy chairman and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained while changing flights in Canada, in order to face "unspecified charges" in NY.

Huawei has said it knows little of the charges and was "not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng".

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