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Chinese Huawei exec arrested on espionage charges in Poland

A Huawei location in Santa Clara, Calif., on April 19, 2018. (Yichuan Cao/Sipa USA/TNS)
January 11, 2019 and

Poland on Friday confirmed that it has arrested an executive from Chinese tech giant Huawei, and a Polish national, on charges of spying for China.

Huawei’s sales director, identified by the Chinese Embassy in Poland as Weijing Wang, and an unnamed Polish national face up to 10 years in prison it they are convicted, CNN reported Friday, adding that both pleaded not guilty, according to Polish state TV.

The telecommunications company Huawei is already heavily scrutinized by the United States for allegations that it uses its equipment for espionage.

Last month, Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, on charges of violating sanctions on Iran. The arrest was executed at the request of the U.S.

The arrest left speculation that it could further sour tensions between the U.S. and China, as Huawei is highly regarded in China. It is the second leading smartphone company in the world, and is the largest producer of cellular and internet networking equipment.

Huawei has long been suspected of facilitating surveillance or communication disruptions on behalf of the Chinese government. Huawei smartphones were banned from U.S. military bases this year over concerns of security threats.

Further, the Justice Department has been probing Huawei’s dealings with Iran since April, and the company is suspected of violating sanctions imposed on Iran for more than two years.

Huawei’s competitor, ZTE, was also found to be violating sanctions on Iran.

Consequently, ZTE components were banned from the U.S., which devastated the company and nearly caused it to dissolve into bankruptcy. Earlier last year, ZTE paid some $1.4 billion in fines to the U.S. and agreed to a management restructure in order to lift the ban in the U.S.

Huawei is preparing to roll out new 5G wireless technology, allowing greater connectivity to the internet through devices such as health monitors and autonomous vehicles, prompting greater concern over Huawei’s ability to access sensitive information.

The U.K., Australia, and New Zealand have pre-emptively banned Huawei on 5G networks.

In December, it was reported that President Donald Trump could be eying an executive order that would prohibit American companies from using restricted telecommunications equipment, possibly from Huawei and ZTE.

Following the arrest of Wanzhou, China detained 13 Canadian nationals.

These events come during a time of tense trade talks between the United States and China.