CNN Question “What Do You Think Is the Main Reason Behind the US Campaign against Huawei?” Goes Trending on Weibo

First published

The Huawei case is an ongoing topic of discussion on Chinese social media. This time, a poll held by CNN is top trending on Weibo: the majority of those participating said the US campaign against Huawei is all about politics.

Trending on Weibo today is a segment of CNN’s Quest Means Business, in which news anchor Richard Quest asked the CNN audience “What do you think is the main reason behind the US campaign against Huawei?”

The news item focused on a recent BBC interview with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei (任正非), who stated that the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) – the founder’s own daughter – is politically motivated.

In January of this year, the US Justice Department officially filed charges against Chinese smartphone maker Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.

Among many other things, US prosecutors allege that Huawei launched a formal policy in which bonuses were offered to employees who succeeded in stealing confidential information from competitors.

The Department also filed criminal charges against Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Canada on December 1st of 2018 during transit at the Vancouver airport at the request of United States officials. She is now out on bail in Canada.

The Huawei case has triggered worldwide discussions on the security risks posed by Huawei’s equipment and mobile networks, with authorities in various countries reassessing Huawei’s role in 5G networks.

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei told BBC that “there’s no way the US can crush us.” He also said: “The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit.”

 

ALL ABOUT POLITICS?

“Your viewers are just as smart as we thought they were”

 

Quest invited the audience to reply to the question “What do you think is the main reason behind the US campaign against Huawei?” Via CNN.com/join, viewers could choose between the options “security,” “politics,” “business,” and “something else.”

The anchor explained the answers to the question as follows: “Is it security, as Donald Trump and the administration claims? Is it politics? Does it have something to do with protecting American business? Or something entirely different?” He later added: “So security concerns? Or politics? In other words: the US just wants to bash China? Or business – the US wants to protect US cooperations?”

As the answers to the question came in, the “politics” box immediately filled up to 100%, with the presenter, seemingly surprised, saying: “So far, 100% of you are saying it is politics!”

The news anchor then briefly spoke with business & technology correspondent Samuel Burke, who stated that if Ren Zhengfei would vote in CNN’s poll, he would definitely pick “politics.”

Burke also stated that the US campaign against Huawei might be a mix of all aforementioned motives and that “the lines were completely blurred” after US President Trump stated he might use Meng Wanzhou “as leverage in the negotiations with the Chinese.” Trump’s statements on using the arrest of the Huawei CFO as a “bargaining chip” were already made in December of last year.

Answering the anchor’s question on whether there was a “legitimate risk,” Burke responded: “There’s always going to be a risk, but you could also argue that there is a risk from American equipment.” He later added: “There’s always risk, it’s just about figuring out how big that risk is.”

When the poll then came to a 58% majority of viewers choosing “politics” as the main motive behind the Huawei campaign, Burke noted that “your viewers are just as smart as we thought they were,” motivating this comment by arguing that the US has no natural companies to take the spot of Huawei, so that protectionism of American companies is definitely not a reason behind the campaign.

 

“SMART VIEWERS”

“Anyone could see this is politically motivated”

 

On Weibo, the hashtag “Even CNN anchors say their viewers are really smart” (#连CNN的主播都说观众真聪明#) came up with 8.5 million 9,8 million views today, ending up in the top 10 trending topics on Weibo. The topic was also promoted by various state media such as Global Times (环球时报).

Many commenters were surprised with the fact that CNN, or its viewers, would ‘side with’ China in this matter: “They even know it themselves!”, some wrote.

“How nice that America has freedom of speech,” some netizens noted, while others said: “Foreigners like to critique their own governments, and the media is one method to attack their authorities.”

“Of course it is political: America thinks that Huawei and the government cannot be separated.”

“This poll is to be trusted,” the commenter in the screenshot below said: “This is definitely politically motivated.”

“Actually, it is so clear, that anyone could see this is politically motivated,” economy expert Yu Fenghui (余丰慧) wrote on Weibo: “Ren Zhengfei’s daughter was framed by America, yet he won’t yield and lets his strong voice be heard. I really admire that.”

But there are also some commenters who say that the fact that CNN suddenly seems so “friendly” towards China has nothing to do with China per se, but more so with the fact that it is Trump who is opposing China in this matter (literally: ” CNN has always been unfriendly to China. Is this now because Trump is standing opposite China?”).

There are also dozens of Weibo users who, besides rejoicing in the fact that viewers seem to ‘support’ China, also praise the American TV programme, writing: “This programme is quite daring, and the American people are reasonable. We could never have such an objective programme in China.”

“They have no Great Firewall; if they want to understand an issue they can just look it up.”

For now, Meng Wanzhou is still out on bail in Canada, reportedly staying at a family residence in Vancouver. In time to come, Canadian courts are expected to hear arguments to decide whether to comply with the US extradition request for Meng to stand trial in the US federal court.

Watch the CNN video here.

By Manya Koetse

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