Saturday, December 8, 2018


Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters via Daily Beast.

When the John Bolton interview on NPR started up yesterday morning, I was pretty taken aback:

Steve Inskeep: We'll just dive right in. But I want to start with the arrest that we learned about last night and that I presume you've known about for some time. What is the message that is sent by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou?
National security adviser John Bolton: Well, I'd rather not get into the specifics of law enforcement matters but, but we've had enormous concern for years about ... in this country about the practice of Chinese firms to use stolen American intellectual property to engage in forced technology transfers and to be used really as arms of the Chinese government's objectives in terms of information technology in particular. So not respecting this particular arrest, but Huawei is one company we've been concerned about, there are others as well. I think this is going be a major subject of the negotiations that President Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed on in Buenos Aires.
She's busted for intellectual property theft? Because the news coverage was pretty clear that the offense she was being held for was to do with her company violating Iran sanctions. Did Bolton not know that? Also, copyright violation isn't generally considered a criminal offense.

He's completely familiar with who Meng Wanzhou is (the CFO of Huawei Technologies, the world's largest manufacturer of telecoms equipment and second-largest maker of smart phones, and daughter of the company's founder), but he sounds as if he's got no idea about the arrest and is trying to bluff his way through without revealing it.

Inskeep is confused too:
This had been understood to involve Huawei's dealings with Iran in some fashion. Are you saying that's not correct?
Well, I think the violations of the Iran sanctions are certainly of major concern to the Trump administration. It's one of his signature policies and I think that applies on a global basis. But with respect to a number of Chinese companies, we saw what happened with ZTE some months ago and many other issues of concern like that. And I think, as I say, as the negotiations proceed I think we're gonna see a lot about what Chinese companies have done to steal intellectual property, to hack into the computer systems, not just of the U.S. government, although they've done that, but into private companies as well.
Inskeep can't believe it:
I still don't understand, and I want to make sure that I don't come away with the wrong impression. Are you saying this is about technology transfer and intellectual property theft, or is this about Iran?
Well much of the...
This arrest specifically I mean.
Right, no, I was referring to the broader subject of our concern with Chinese companies. As I said, I don't I don't think it's appropriate to get into the specifics...
He's going to brazen it out no matter what, he's never going to admit he doesn't know what Inskeep's talking about. Like, "How dare you try to dictate the subject of this conversation? You're nothing but an interviewer!" It's a remarkable performance.

But later in the day I ran across something that made me rethink this:
A Trump administration official says there is a plan for the United States to seek Meng's extradition. The view among some officials is that she could be used as leverage with China in trade talks.
The White House says Trump and his close aides were not aware the US planned to place an extradition request for Meng ahead of his dinner with Xi on Saturday.
National security adviser John Bolton said in an interview with National Public Radio that he was aware before the dinner that an arrest was coming. (CNN)
So it sounds more and more like they're basically having the Canadian police kidnap this woman in order to force her company to make a deal of some kind, and then Donald will look good. Bolton didn't feel he needed to know anything about the pretext they used to get the Canadians to arrest her, because that really wasn't an important issue.

What's important is that we have a hostage, so there's something to look forward to. The embarrassment of Trump's false claim that he'd made a deal at the dinner with Xi can be wiped away, or not, but the conversation can move away.

And you know, I absolutely don't have a brief for Ms. Meng, or for the current Chinese government either, with its personality cult devoted to its Winnie-the-Pooh–resembling president-for-life, and its terrible oppression of in particular the Muslim people of Xinjiang in the far northwest, Kazakhs and Uygurs, and its imperial designs on the South China Sea, and its 19th Party Congress, to say nothing of its casual attitude toward intellectual property law, but this is really gangsterism, and gross in a way American governments ought to avoid, no matter how immoral their adversaries may be.
OK. And just one other thing to be clear on this, and understanding that you don't want to get into all the details, but Chinese outlets, including their People's Daily, have insisted the executive broke no U.S. or Canadian law and that this is a violation of human rights. Is it correct that she broke no U.S. law?
Well, I think that's part of what's in question here, and you know she was arrested by Canadian authorities. As we speak, there are detention proceedings underway, bail hearings as we would call them, and a pending extradition request by the United States. So that is, that's part of our due process of law enforcement. And we'll see what the result of it is.
"There might be some law or other she's broken, so that's why we're having her detained. Due process of law enforcement, doncha know. I don't have a clue myself, but you can't be too careful." Making up a reason for it is somebody else's department. Gangsters, as I said.

Of course the Emperor has to weigh in on that with a no-puppet-no-puppet-you're-the-puppet comeback to Tillerson calling him stupid, but he doesn't bother to deny the criminality:

No comments:

Post a Comment