US in criminal probe of China’s Huawei: report

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US authorities are in “advanced” stages of a criminal probe that could result in an indictment of Chinese technology giant Huawei, a published report said Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, said the Justice Department is looking into allegations of theft of trade secrets from Huawei’s US business partners, including a T-Mobile robotic device used to test smartphones.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the report. Huawei did not respond to an AFP request for comment.

The move would further escalate tensions between the US and China after the arrest last year in Canada of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of the company founder.

The case of Meng, under house arrest awaiting proceedings, has inflamed US-China and Canadian-China relations, and Ottawa has said 13 Canadians have since been detained by Beijing, including one sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges.

Huawei, the second-largest global smartphone maker and biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, has for years been under scrutiny in the United States over purported links to the Chinese government.

Huawei’s reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei, in a rare media interview Tuesday, forcefully denying accusations that his firm engaged in espionage on behalf of the Chinese government.

The tensions come amid a backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s efforts to get more manufacturing on US soil and slap hefty tariffs on Chinese goods for what he claims are unfair trade practices by Beijing.

© Agence France-Presse