Enough’s enough. Ban and boycott Huawei until China backs off
We’re in a fight. Can we start acting like it now?
As a bit of a gadget geek, the moment one of my devices begins to act up, I get excited about the possibility of replacing it. My wife, in contrast, is more willing to let something fall apart from overuse before upgrading to something new. But this week, even she had to admit her smartphone was on its last legs. We headed into the local shop of our wireless provider to look at replacements, and right by the front door was a huge display of Huawei phones.
And I mean huge. It was impossible to miss, positioned right in front of the main entrance, with glossy posters showing happy people wiling the hours away on their Huawei phones and tablets. It’s all part of the Chinese telecom company’s strong push for sales in Canada. You had to walk around it to get into the store. Subtle, it was not.
It set my teeth on edge. And that was before China tried to blow up our agricultural sector.
On Tuesday evening, the news broke that China was banning meat imports from Canada. China says it detected a banned substance in Canadian pork, and discovered paperwork irregularities when it investigated. It would be a lot easier to take that oh-so-reasonable-sounding explanation seriously if China were not applying strong political pressure on Canada over the matter of Meng Wanzhou. Meng is a well-connected Chinese national and Huawei executive who was detained by Canada after we received a lawful extradition request from the United States, which has charged Meng was fraud relating to alleged efforts to skirt sanctions imposed on Iran. She is out on bail, pending a resolution of the extradition request. China is … displeased.
China is arresting our citizens and explicitly targeting our economy
It seems almost unnecessary to recap here how China has responded thus far. It’s been a major news story for months. But alongside increasingly terse diplomatic warnings, China also arrested two Canadian citizens on questionable charges, re-sentenced a Canadian previously convicted of drug-related charges to death, and has clamped down on exports of Canadian canola to China. The latest salvo against our farmers has to be viewed in that context. Even if there was truth to China’s claim of contamination and bogus papers — I’m not buying it, but even if — their suspension of imports has to be seen as part of this broader context. Beijing is leaning on us.
Fair enough. We’re in a fight. Can we start acting like it now?
Seriously. I refer you back to the above. China is arresting our citizens and explicitly targeting our economy. Meanwhile, if your phone breaks and you mosey on into a store to replace it, you’ll be dazzled by the massive Huawei displays. There’s an opportunity here. Huawei is closely tied to the Chinese government. It’s also symbolic of China’s economic aspirations. Want to strike back at China? Target Huawei.
That should include a consumer boycott. Martin Patriquin, writing in these pages four months ago, already made that call to arms. “Those put off by China’s treatment of Canadian citizens in the wake of Meng Wanzhou’s arrest,” he wrote then, “should register their ire by not buying Huawei products. Huawei, the direct beneficiary of China’s thuggery, deserves neither our eyeballs nor our business.” He was right then; he’s even more right now.
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