One of the world’s largest telecom companies, Huawei, is at war with a few powerful western nations led by the United States. This is not a new spat. The conflict, which has been simmering for quite a few years, reached its crescendo on December 1, 2018 with the detention and arrest of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, its Chief Financial Officer, in Vancouver, Canada, for allegedly breaking U.S. sanctions on Iran by way of bank frauds. The U.S had asked Canada to detain her. Ms. Meng, a tech heiress, is the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei and was arrested while in transit at the airport. A Canadian court has granted her bail, but she could face extradition to the U.S. The incident, which has led to an uproar in China, has left Canada embarrassed, as any decision will have a bearing on its ties with Beijing. The more recent conviction (January 14) of a Canadian national Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death by a court in China for drug trafficking has only aggravated the controversy. Significantly, this conviction was based on a retrial that took place after the arrest of Ms. Meng. The fact that Canada does not have a death sentence on its statute books complicates relations between the two countries. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has assailed this as a political move. Additionally the recent detention in China of two other Canadian citizens (one, a diplomat on leave) on national security grounds has muddied the waters further. The Chinese assessment is that the U.S. is exercised over the growing stature of Huawei and the resultant threat to U.S. technology companies and links this to the action against Ms. Meng. It must be remembered that Huawei has overtaken Apple to become the second largest maker of smartphones, and its investments in research and development are growing at a frenetic pace. Need for protocol The conflict between China and the West, especially the U.S., raises serious concerns over issues that are germane to international business and trade. The first is its impact on the troubled state of international relations and international law that operates in such cases. There is also the issue of the apparent ease and arbitrariness with which a nation determined to outwit a rival can hit the latter hard. There does not seem to be an ethical set of rules. No one suggests that Ms. Meng did not transgress U.S. law. She may have acted surreptitiously to counter U.S. sanctions against Iran. The point, however, is whether such drastic action against a top executive was warranted, especially in the context of the fragile relationship between the two nations. The implications of the incident, in terms of the need for a protocol between nations in the area of criminal justice must be pondered over. Some experts cite the concept of ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ in support of the U.S. action — such jurisdiction empowers a nation to enforce its laws and rules over foreign entities, generally through courts.