One of the biggest global headlines of the past few weeks has been the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, which shocked millions and touched off a firestorm of protests in Huawei’s home country, China. There are many social, economic, and political factors in the mix right now, and many different operators are jostling for position and narrative opportunities as the story continues to unfold on a global scale.
Politicians in both China and the United States are using this arrest to push their perspectives on trade relations between the two massive economic powerhouse nations. Meanwhile, Canada, where Meng was arrested, is dealing with a newly-minted North American trade deal while also trying to solidify trading with both China and the European Union, which is watching all this unfold while dealing with its own social and economic issues related to the current Brexit mess.
Then there are several different groups in China using this even to amplify their message. Nationalist groups are suggesting this is an affront to China’s national pride, while Chinese economic interests are decrying what some are calling “harsh and unfair” treatment of one of their colleagues.
American politicians, including President Trump, are using the arrest to better their bargaining position during contentious trade talks. Trump said: “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary…”
This statement came after Meng was released on bail by a Canadian judge, and the media asked if the President would get involved in what is fast becoming an international incident. What had been carefully defined as a strictly “law and order” scenario by officials in the United States and Canada is now being touted as a “political action” taken by the West against the East.
This narrative could gain more steam if and when Meng is extradited to the United States to face allegations. Rumors of Meng sporting a monitoring ankle bracelet and a security team, measures meant to keep her from going back to China against the court’s wishes, are sure to inflame feelings – and narratives – on all sides.
The United States has up to 60 days to deliver a formal extradition request, and this story could continue to populate the news cycle for at least that long, ensuring many voices an opportunity to have their say while the world is watching.
-5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian