The criminal charges in Seattle were announced the same day the USA government unveiled a case in NY that accuses Huawei, two of its subsidiaries and a top executive of misleading banks about the company's business and violating US sanctions.
And it was unsealed on the very day that the Trump administration announced new high-level trade talks with China, fuelling questions about whether the two are linked - questions the White House batted down.
The meetings are part of what Trump agreed to with Chinese President Xi Jinping during meetings previous year in Argentina, where they hatched a plan to spend 90 days talking about what it would take for the two countries to forge a trade alliance. But prosecutors have said it was in fact a part of a company-wide effort and alleged Huawei actually rewards employees for stealing trade secrets.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) praised the Justice Department's formal charges against Chinese telecom giant Huawei and its chief financial officer on Monday, saying they gave the US more information about the company's "campaign of theft and economic sabotage against America". The U.S. wants Meng extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei's business dealings in Iran.
China detained two Canadians shortly after Meng's arrest in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to free her.
Meng is out on bail in Vancouver and her case is due back in court Tuesday as she awaits extradition proceedings to begin.
Huawei is the world's largest supplier of telecommunications network equipment and second-biggest maker of smartphones.
A Huawei spokesman did not return phone calls.
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Whitaker was joined by other Cabinet officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. "As I told Chinese officials in August, China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law".
The officials provided details from a 10-count grand jury indictment in Seattle, and a separate 13-count case from prosecutors in the Eastern District of NY.
Beginning in 2012, Huawei hatched a plan to steal information about T-Mobile's robot, named "Tappy", and Huawei engineers secretly took photos of the robot, measured it and tried to steal a piece of it from T-Mobile's lab in Washington state, according to prosecutors.
That followed the detention in Canada of the Huawei founder's daughter - a top company official who was named in one of the U.S. indictments, and who is now awaiting possible extradition to the U.S. Huawei has denied wrongdoing. President Donald Trump said in December he could intervene in Meng's case if it would serve US national security interests or help close a trade deal with China.
Earlier Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said McCallum was sacked because he didn't toe the government's line in the current China crisis.
The two countries agreed December 1 to negotiate for 90 days in an effort to defuse worsening trade tensions.
Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University said for now China is likely to continue to keep the two issues - trade and Huawei - separate.
Huawei has rejected accusations by Washington and some other governments that it is controlled by China's ruling party and might facilitate spying. But Geng Shuang also made it clear China still wasn't buying Canada's insistence that Meng's case was an independent legal matter and reiterated his government's demand that Canada release her unconditionally.