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Two Canadians have been detained in China on accusations of harming national security, as tension continues between the two countries.

On December 13, Canadian businessman Michael Spavor had been detained in addition to former diplomat Michael Kovrig.

Canada drew Chinese protests after it arrested Meng Wanzhou, CFO at telecoms giant Huawei, at the request of the US.

Meng Wanzhou has been bailed but may face extradition for fraud.

She denies violating US sanctions on Iran through Huawei’s business dealings. China has threatened unspecified consequences if she is not released.

Meng Wanzhou: Huawei CFO Arrested in Canada

Huawei denies spying for Chinese government

Huawei and ZTE pose a security threat to the US, congressional panel warns

So high-profile is the case that President Donald Trump said he could intervene if it helped to avoid a further decline in relations between the US and Canada, which are locked in a trade war.

However, President Trump’s own officials frowned on the idea, with US Assistant Attorney General John Demers remarking: “What we do at the Justice Department is law enforcement. We don’t do trade.”

Michael Spavor is a businessman based in Dandong, near the Chinese border with North Korea. He has ties to the North Korean government and has met Kim Jong-un many times.

Ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig currently works for a think tank, the International Crisis Group (ICG), which has said it is concerned for his health and safety.

He is being held officially “on suspicion of engaging in activities that harm China’s state security”.

However, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, suggested another reason, saying the ICG had not been registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in China and therefore it was unlawful for its staff to work there.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has said Michael Kovrig’s case was raised directly with Chinese officials.

Canadian foreign ministry spokesman Guillaume Bérubé confirmed that Michael Spavor had contacted them earlier in the week because “he was being asked questions by Chinese authorities”.

Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the founder of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, has been arrested in Canada and faces extradition to the US.

The Huawei’s chief financial officer and deputy chair was arrested in Vancouver on December 1.

Details of the arrest have not been released but the US has been investigating the Chinese company over possible violation of sanctions against Iran.

China’s embassy in Canada protested at the arrest and demanded Meng Wanzhou’s release.

Huawei said it had little information about the charges and was “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng”.

Meng Wanzhou’s arrest comes at a sensitive time for US-China relations. China and the US are engaged in a trade war that has seen both impose duties of billions of dollars on one another’s goods.

The arrest will not help the 90-day tariff truce the nations agreed after President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping met at the G20.

It also coincides with moves to restrict the use of Huawei technology in Western countries. The US, Australia and New Zealand have blocked the use of Huawei’s equipment in infrastructure for new faster 5G mobile networks.

Huawei has denied claims made by former CIA chief Michael Hayden that it has spied for the Chinese government

Huawei denies spying for Chinese government

Huawei and ZTE pose a security threat to the US, congressional panel warns

US and China Agree to Halt New Trade Tariffs for 90 Days

Canada’s ministry of justice confirmed the date and place of Meng Wanzhou’s arrest and added: “She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday.”

It said it could not say more as Meng Wanzhou had sought a ban on the publication of details and this had been ordered by the courts.

A spokesman for the DoJ in the Eastern District of New York – which Huawei said had brought the charges – declined to comment.

Huawei is under investigation for potential violations of US sanctions against Iran.

One report in the New York Times said the US commerce and treasury departments had subpoenaed Huawei over suspected violation of sanctions against both Iran and North Korea.

US lawmakers have repeatedly accused Huawei of being a threat to US national security, arguing that its technology could be used for spying by the Chinese government.

Huawei said Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was detained while transferring between flights.

In a statement, the company said it had complied with “all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.

“The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion.”

Huawei is one of the largest telecommunications equipment and services providers in the world, recently passing Apple to become the second-biggest smartphone maker after Samsung.

Some Western governments fear China will gain access to fifth-generation (5G) mobile and other communications networks through Huawei and expand its spying ability, although the company insists there is no government control.

The US has brought a number of legal cases against Chinese technology firms, with accusations such as cyber-security theft and violations of Iran sanctions.

Earlier this year, it barred US companies from exporting to ZTE, effectively shutting down the firm. The US later replaced the ban with a fine and governance changes.

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Huawei has reported a 19% jump in sales to 135.8 billion yuan ($21.9 billion) for the first six months of the year.

The Chinese telecom equipment maker said it expects to make an operating profit margin of 18.3% for the period.

Huawei has traditionally concentrated on making telecoms network equipment, but has benefited by diversifying into fast-growing sectors such as smartphone manufacturing.

It is now one of the world’s largest smartphone makers.

Cathy Meng, the company’s chief financial officer, said the firm “achieved quality and sustainable growth in our consumer business thanks to the increase of brand awareness and smart devices sales worldwide”.

According to IDC, Huawei shipped 13.7 million smartphones in the first three months of this year – making it the third-biggest smartphone vendor in the world.

Huawei is now one of the world's largest smartphone makers

Huawei is now one of the world’s largest smartphone makers

Huawei did not give a breakdown of its latest sales numbers.

The company has also been looking to tap into the market for wearable technology and introduced its hybrid Talkband smart device earlier this year.

Furthermore, China’s investment in fourth-generation mobile network technology has led to a steady stream of revenue for the company.

“Driven by increasing investments in LTE networks worldwide, Huawei has further solidified its leadership position in mobile broadband,” Cathy Meng said in the statement.

Huawei’s growth comes despite it coming under scrutiny in key markets in recent years.

In 2012, US politicians claimed that the company posed a security threat because of its alleged links to China’s government and military.

The concerns over its association with the Chinese authorities have been driven in part, by the fact that the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, was a former member of the People’s Liberation Army.

However, Huawei has repeatedly denied those claims and has stressed that it is 100%-owned by its employees and founder.

Earlier this year, a report in the New York Times alleged that the National Security Agency (NSA) had infiltrated Huawei’s servers.

In response, China has demanded a clear explanation from the US government.

Huawei has denied claims made by former CIA chief Michael Hayden that it has spied for the Chinese government.

Michael Hayden was quoted by the Australian Financial Review as saying that it was his “professional judgment” that the firm supplied intelligence to ­China.

However, Huawei said the claims were “unsubstantiated” and “defamatory”.

Huawei, one of the world’s biggest telecom equipment makers, has faced increased scrutiny in recent times.

Last year, US politicians claimed that the company posed a security threat because of its alleged links to China’s government and military.

Huawei has denied claims made by former CIA chief Michael Hayden that it has spied for the Chinese government

Huawei has denied claims made by former CIA chief Michael Hayden that it has spied for the Chinese government

On Thursday, the UK government said that it would review Huawei’s involvement in a cybersecurity centre.

The concerns over its association with the Chinese authorities have been driven in part, by the fact that the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, was a former member of the People’s Liberation Army.

However, Huawei has repeatedly denied those claims and has stressed that it is 98.6%-owned by its employees.

In an article published by the Australian Financial Review, Michael Hayden claimed that Western intelligence agencies had information about Huawei’s “clandestine activities”.

Michael Hayden was quoted as saying that Huawei at a minimum had “shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with”.

However, Scott Sykes, head of international media affairs for Huawei, said that these remarks were “sad distractions from real-world concerns related to espionage – industrial and otherwise – that demand serious discussion globally”.

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Huawei has unveiled Ascend P6, the world’s thinnest smartphone.

The Android-based Ascend P6 is 6.18 mm (0.24 in) thick and is also unusual in that it has a 5 megapixel front camera for “high quality” self-portraits.

The Chinese-based firm has said it expects the handset to do “miracles” for its brand.

One analyst praised its design, comparing it to a “steamrollered iPhone”, but said its lack of support for 4G networks might limit sales.

“It’s undoubtedly the most impressive phone that Huawei have launched to date in terms of the design, the materials used and its quality,” said Ben Wood, director of research at consultancy CCS Insight, who was at the London launch.

“We’ve seen mainland Chinese manufacturers rapidly improve their ability to make competitive devices over the last 18 months and this is possibly the best so far. But its 3G status means there has undoubtedly been a trade-off to get it as thin and cheap as possible.”

Huawei says it designed one of the slimmest and narrowest circuit boards in the industry to squeeze the electronics into the new handset.

The device has a 4.7 in screen making it comparable to the HTC One but is more than 3 mm (0.1 in) thinner.

It is also slightly slimmer than both the iPhone 5 and the Alcatel One Idol Ultra – which previously claimed to be the world’s thinnest – but at 120 g (0.26 lb) weighs a little more than both.

The phone features Huawei’s own tile-based user interface called Emotion and proprietary software, including an “auto-facial enhancement” tool designed to make self-portraits look better.

Huawei has unveiled Ascend P6, the world's thinnest smartphone

Huawei has unveiled Ascend P6, the world’s thinnest smartphone

Other specifications include:

  • An 8 megapixel rear camera
  • Use of the latest Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 operating system
  • 8 gigabytes of internal storage – a relatively low amount – but support for 32GB microSD cards
  • A 1.5GHz quad core processor developed by Huawei
  • Various power saving technologies based on the firm’s experience as one of the biggest telecoms equipment makers. As a result, it says the device’s battery lasts 30% longer than it would do otherwise.

Huawei is already a well known brand in China where it grew to become the country’s biggest maker of telecoms equipment after being founded in 1987.

Its more recent shift into Android phones has also found success. According to data research firm IDC, it shipped 9.9 million smartphones in the first three months of the year making it fourth biggest vendor after Samsung, Apple and LG.

However, Huawei acknowledges it still needs to do more to make western consumers familiar with its name and has committed 2% of its revenues to try to ensure it is widely recognized as a leading smart device brand within five years.

“Seven years ago nobody would have believed Apple could be so successful, and maybe five years ago that Samsung could be so successful,” said Shao Yang, chief marketing officer for Huawei Device.

According to a recent study by at Strategy Analytics, Samsung accounts for about 95% of all profits in the Android smartphone market, thanks to “an efficient supply chain, sleek products and crisp marketing”.

That has led some analysts to question the wisdom of competing directly against the South Korean firm. But Ben Wood suggested Huawei might be able to make headway thanks to the economies of scale offered by its rapid rise in its homeland.

“This year Huawei is expected to sell 60 million units – double what it did last year – with the lion’s share of that coming from China,” he said.

“So, when competing with companies like Sony or Nokia it has an inherent advantage which will help with cost.

“It has to make the most of that as it has to pay a kind of tax in the west: since its name is less well known, for big operators or retailers to take its products they expect to get them at a lower price feature-for-feature, spec-for-spec than from a recognized brand.”

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Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona kicks off with a fresh tablet from Samsung and a new Android handset from Huawei.

About 1,500 exhibitors are taking part at the MWC in Barcelona.

Samsung’s tablet features an 8 in (20.3 cm) screen with a resolution of 189 pixels per inch (ppi) making it slightly bigger and more detailed than Apple’s bestselling iPad Mini.

Huawei’s Ascend P2 has a 4.7 in screen with 315ppi, and a 13 megapixel camera.

The Chinese firm said it also featured a facility called Magic Touch, which allowed it to be used while wearing gloves – similar to Nokia’s Lumia 920.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.0 is being promoted as a device on which users can multi-task – running two apps in split-screen mode – and can act as alternative to “traditional pen and paper” thanks to its included stylus, the S Pen.

The South Korean firm adds that it is light enough to be held by one hand, and can also be used to make phone calls.

According to the research firm IDC, Samsung was the world’s most successful smart device manufacturer in the October-to-December period, accounting for 21.2% of all shipments.

However, that position was secured in large part due to its smartphones, and IDC noted that in the tablet sector Samsung came in second with a 15.1% market share compared to Apple’s 43.6%.

“The Note 8 marks Samsung’s relentless charge to grab a slice of the tablet market from Apple, but also to defend itself from the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7,” said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.

“I think there’s a diminishing window of opportunity because Amazon and Google are playing by different rules – they are effectively willing to sell their hardware virtually at cost and then make money through content sales, whereas Samsung is a hardware manufacturer selling something for a margin.

“It’s very difficult for consumers to tell the difference between these products – but what does make Samsung stand out is the fact they are prepared to carpet bomb marketing with an eye-watering budget, which effectively marginalizes some of the other companies trying to get into the tablet space.”

The Galaxy Note 8.0 is being made available in Europe, South Korea, China and a limited number of other countries in the April-to-June period.

Huawei describes its Android-powered Ascend P2 as the world’s “fastest” smartphone thanks to it being the first to include an LTE Cat 4 chip which – in theory – allows 4G download speeds of up to 150 megabits per second,

The device also includes an NFC (near field communication) chip, allowing it to support wireless payments, and is relatively slim measuring 8.4 mm (0.33 in) thick.

However, its screen is lower resolution than recent models from LG, HTC and Nokia, and can display 720p HD video rather than 1080p output. But this may help it last longer between recharges, and the device also features a larger than average 2420 mAh battery.

Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona kicks off with a fresh tablet from Samsung and a new Android handset from Huawei

Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona kicks off with a fresh tablet from Samsung and a new Android handset from Huawei

According to IDC, Huawei accounted for 10.8 million smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter, making it the world’s third-biggest vendor.

However, it could still only claim a 4.9% market share since Apple and Samsung dominated the sector – something the Chinese firm itself acknowledged describing itself as a “brand in the making” at its Barcelona launch.

“Because this is a very aggressively-priced LTE phone, Huawei have a good chance of getting it into operator portfolios for 2013,” said Ben Wood.

“Brand awareness and credibility remain a challenge for Huawei. But this is a company that will never give up.

“Huawei is determined to make inroads into the mobile phone market, though the competitive intensity of this segment means they will need to spend a lot of money to succeed.”

Huawei said the phone was already confirmed to go on sale in France in June, and should launch elsewhere around the globe around the same time.

Other early MWC announcements include:

  • A 16 gigabyte version of Acer’s budget Iconia B1 tablet.
  • The Samsung HomeSync – a 1 terabyte hard disk designed to allow families to share content between their Samsung devices and display it on their television.
  • A marketing campaign from Asus – the maker of the Google Nexus 7 – suggesting it will be the latest to launch a tablet that can also make calls at its event on Monday.

In past year’s Sony Ericsson also held a major press conference on the Sunday ahead of Monday’s official start to MWC.

But the business – which is now controlled in whole by Sony – has opted for a smaller event on Monday this year.

The move reflects it decision to launch its flagship Xperia Z phone earlier in the year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Other firms have also preferred to hold one-off events, such as Blackberry with its Z10 and Q10 unveiling in New York last month.

It is also notable that Samsung has chosen to hold off updating its key Galaxy S handset until later in the year. It unveiled the Galaxy S2 at MWC in 2011.

Press conferences at MWC

Sunday:

Mozilla: 18.00 local time

Monday:

Nokia: 08.20 local time

Sony: 08.45 local time

Ford: 10.00 local time

Asus: 13.00 local time

ZTE: 16.00 local time

Visa: 16.30 local time

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Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE pose a security threat to the US, a congressional panel has warned after an investigation into the two firms.

The two firms should be barred from any mergers and acquisitions in the US, the panel has recommended in its report set to be released later on Monday.

It said the firms had failed to allay fears about their association with the Chinese government and military.

The two are among the world’s biggest makers of telecom networking equipment.

“China has the means, opportunity and motive to use telecommunications companies for malicious purposes,” the committee said in its report.

“Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems.”

Both Huawei and ZTE have previously denied the allegations.

Huawei was started by Ren Zhengfei, a former member of the People’s Liberation Army, in 1987.

As the firm has grown to become one of the largest global players in the sector, fears about its ties with the Chinese military have frequently surfaced.

There have been concerns and allegations that it was helping China gather information on foreign states and companies, charges that the firm has denied.

Last year, its purchase of American computer company 3Leaf systems, was rejected by a US security panel.

Earlier this year, it along with ZTE, faced allegations that some of their equipment had been installed with codes to relay sensitive information back to China.

Senior executives from the two companies denied those allegations when they appeared before US lawmakers in September.

This latest report comes in the midst of a US presidential campaign in which China has become a political hot topic.

Both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney have pledged to increase the pressure on Beijing on issues ranging from China’s currency policy to state subsidies for Chinese firms.

Earlier this month, Barack Obama signed an order blocking a deal by a Chinese firm, Ralls Corp, to acquire four wind farm projects near a US naval facility in Oregon.

It was the first foreign investment to be blocked in the US for 22 years.

The Chinese firm has since sued Barack Obama, alleging the US government overstepped its authority.

William Plummer, Huawei’s vice-president, said the latest accusations against the telecom firm were politically motivated.

“The integrity and independence of Huawei’s organization and business practices are trusted and respected across almost 150 markets,” he was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

“Purporting that Huawei is somehow uniquely vulnerable to cyber mischief ignores technical and commercial realities, recklessly threatens American jobs and innovation, does nothing to protect national security, and should be exposed as dangerous political distractions.”

 

Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei has filed a competition complaint against US firm InterDigital with European Union regulators.

Huawei accuses InterDigital of “abusing” its position and demanding “exploitative” fees to use its patented technology, said to be essential to 3G in mobile devices.

It added that such moves were against the EU rules which require holders to licence their patents fairly.

InterDigital said it was “committed” to those rules.

Huawei said in a statement: “InterDigital is seeking to leverage its declared 3G standard essential patents to force Huawei to conclude a discriminatory, unfair and exploitative license.

“InterDigital’s demand manifestly breaches the policies of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute calling for fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing practices by technology patent holders.”

Huawei accuses InterDigital of "abusing" its position and demanding "exploitative" fees to use its patented technology, said to be essential to 3G in mobile devices

Huawei accuses InterDigital of "abusing" its position and demanding "exploitative" fees to use its patented technology, said to be essential to 3G in mobile devices

InterDigital, which is based in Philadelphia, owns more than 19,500 mobile communications patents and patent applications.

Huawei said that InterDigital had been trying to take advantage of the dominant position it enjoys in the sector and despite negotiations the two firms had not been able to reach an agreement.

However, InterDigital said that it had been following the rules set by regulators while dealing with various companies across the globe.

“Our long and successful track record of licensing more than 50 companies throughout the mobile industry is proof of that commitment, and of our ability to reach mutually agreeable terms for such licenses,” Lawrence Shay, President of InterDigital’s patent holding subsidiaries said in a statement.

This is not the first time that the two firms have been involved in a patent-related dispute.

Last year, InterDigital lodged a complaint against Huawei, along with another Chinese phone maker ZTE and Finland’s Nokia, accusing them of infringing seven of its patents.