“In essence that is what has made geopolitics so challenging to American interests in the last 20 years,” he said. “If we want an international system that is not solely based on power politics, there should be due process and transparency. If Huawei is not guilty of selling technology to the Iranians, then let the legal process play out. If we truly want a liberal international order, this is our chance to prove it.”
China has been critical of Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear treaty, and last month, a top Chinese foreign policy official, Yang Jiechi, said in Washington that the United States should honor the nuclear agreement, which eases sanctions on Iran in exchange for the nuclear freeze. The Iran issue was a notable point of conflict in a meeting that Mr. Yang and the Chinese defense minister had with Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Jim Mattis, the defense secretary.
China continues to be the biggest buyer of Iranian oil, while the United States aims to lower Iran’s oil exports to zero. When it imposed a round of strict sanctions on Iran last month, the United States had to grant China and a handful of other nations waivers to continue buying oil for six months.
Huawei and Ms. Meng are at the top of China’s corporate world, thrusting diplomatic and policy issues in the mix along with law enforcement priorities as the Trump administration weighs its next moves.
Last Saturday, as Ms. Meng was being arrested in Canada, Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi said at a working dinner at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Argentina that they had reached a truce on the trade war, which Mr. Trump started over the summer. That conflict has roiled global markets, which in turn has made Mr. Trump uncomfortable. The two nations set a goal of reaching a broader trade agreement within 90 days. The timing of Ms. Meng’s arrest appeared to be coincidental.
But that arrest means the trade talks will almost certainly become more difficult. China could cancel upcoming rounds of the talks; in September, China canceled talks after Mr. Trump announced new tariffs.
Besides aiding sanctions policy on Iran and North Korea, the arrest allows the Trump administration to underscore the risks of doing business with large Chinese technology companies. American officials, including Mr. Spalding, have warned other nations not to deal with Huawei or ZTE, another major Chinese technology company. (It was the earlier Justice Department investigation of violation of Iran sanctions by ZTE that helped lead to the Huawei inquiry.)