US in criminal probe of China's Huawei

Huawei, the second-largest global smartphone maker and biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, has for years been under scrutiny in the US over purported links to the Chinese government. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 January 2019

US in criminal probe of China's Huawei

  • The Wall Street Journal said the US justice department is looking into allegations of theft of trade secrets from Huawei's US business partners
  • Huawei forcefully denied accusations that his firm engaged in espionage on behalf of the Chinese government

WASHINGTON: US authorities are in the "advanced" stages of a criminal probe that could result in an indictment of Chinese technology giant Huawei, a report said Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, said the Department of Justice 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.
Huawei and the Department of Justice declined to comment on the media report.
However, Huawei noted that "Huawei and T-Mobile settled their disputes in 2017 following a US jury verdict finding neither damage, unjust enrichment nor willful and malicious conduct by Huawei in T-Mobile's trade secret claim."
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 Canada-China relations.
Two Canadians have been detained in China since Meng's arrest and a third has been sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges -- moves observers see as attempts by Beijing to pressure Ottawa over her case.
Huawei, the second-largest global smartphone maker and biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, has for years been under scrutiny in the US over purported links to the Chinese government.
Huawei's reclusive founder Ren Zhengfei, in a rare media interview Tuesday, forcefully denied accusations that his firm engaged in espionage on behalf of the Chinese government.
The tensions come amid a backdrop of 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.
In a related move, lawmakers introduced a bill to ban the export of American parts and components to Chinese telecom companies that are in violation of US export control or sanctions laws -- with Huawei and fellow Chinese firm ZTE the likely targets.
"Huawei is effectively an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party whose founder and CEO was an engineer for the People's Liberation Army," said Republican Senator Tom Cotton, one of the bill's sponsors.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said in the same statement: "Huawei and ZTE are two sides of the same coin. Both companies have repeatedly violated US laws, represent a significant risk to American national security interests and need to be held accountable."
Last year, Trump reached a deal with ZTE that eases tough financial penalties on the firm for helping Iran and North Korea evade American sanctions.
Trump said his decision in May to spare ZTE came following an appeal by Chinese President Xi Jinping to help save Chinese jobs.


Qantas Airways profits lower after oil prices rise

Updated 8 min 55 sec ago

Qantas Airways profits lower after oil prices rise

  • The 99-year-old airline was hit by an Aus$614 million fuel bill increase and Aus$154 million in foreign exchange impacts

SYDNEY: Qantas Airways posted a 6.5-percent fall in annual net profit Thursday, attributing the slide in earnings to higher oil prices and a weaker Australian dollar.
Despite record revenues, the Australian flag carrier said its after-tax profit fell to Aus$891 million ($604 million), down from Aus$953 million the previous year.
The 99-year-old airline was hit by an Aus$614 million fuel bill increase and Aus$154 million in foreign exchange impacts.
But Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was upbeat about the results, which came on the back of healthy profits the previous year.
“Even with headwinds like fuel costs and foreign exchange, we remain one of the best-performing airline groups in the world,” he said.
In the 12 months to June 30, underlying profit before tax — the airline’s preferred measure that strips out one-off costs — was down 17 percent at Aus$1.3 billion.
Qantas declared a final dividend of 13 cents per share and announced an off-market buyback of up to 79.7 million shares.
It will also hand its workers travel bonuses worth Aus$32 million.
Joyce said the outlook for the airline was “mixed,” with weakness in the domestic tourism market and flat corporate travel demand.
Nevertheless, he said the airline was “confident” about the year ahead due in large part to being in a “strong financial position.”