Huawei arrest stokes fears of China reprisals among US Inc executives
At a closed-door security meeting of US companies in Singapore on Thursday, one topic was high on the agenda: the arrest of a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei and the potential backlash on American firms operating in China.
Officials from major US companies who attended the event, a scheduled meeting of the local chapter of the US Department of State's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), voiced concerns about retaliation against American firms and their executives, two people with knowledge of the meeting said.
A number of attendees said their companies were considering restricting non-essential China travel and looking to move meetings outside the country, one of the people added.
Security executives for companies including Walt Disney Co, Alphabet's Google, Facebook and PayPal Holdings attended the meeting, according to the sources and a LinkedIn posting by one of the attendees.
The companies all declined to comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The discussions at the meeting underscore concerns rippling through US businesses in the world's second largest economy, already facing a delicate balancing act amid a tense trade standoff between Washington and Beijing. The formal agenda for the meeting, held at Google's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore, included presentations on economic crime and terrorism in the region. OSAC promotes "security cooperation between American private sector interests worldwide and the US Department of State," according to its website.
But conversation soon turned to possible risks in China prompted by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer and "heiress" of Chinese telecom network equipment giant Huawei Technologies, who was detained in Canada on December 1. The news of the arrest was made public on Wednesday.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, was held at Washington's request as part of a US investigation of an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade US sanctions against Iran, people familiar with the probe said.
The arrest has roiled global markets amid fears that it could further inflame the Sino-US trade row.
Wanzhou, 46, was to appear in a Vancouver court on Friday for a bail hearing as she awaits possible extradition to the United States.
Japan to ban Huawei, ZTE
Meanwhile, Japan is set to effectively ban government purchases of telecommunications products from China's Huawei and ZTE Corp over fears of intelligence leaks and cyber attacks, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Friday.
The government is expected to revise its internal rules on procurement as early as Monday. It is unlikely to name the two companies, to avoid aggravating China, but Huawei and ZTE are to be subject to the ban, the report said, citing a government source.