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Dismiss the Sanctions Charges Against Meng Wanzhou

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By arresting and detaining two Canadian officials, China’s communist regime is raising the stakes in the sanctions war that the U.S. government has  initiated against Chinese citizens.

As I pointed out in my recent article “Trump’s Trade Sanctions Meet His Trade War,” Canadian officials arrested a Chinese businesswoman named Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. officials. Meng was changing planes in Vancouver when Canadian officials took her into custody. U.S. officials are initiating extradition proceedings against Meng, alleging that she and her company violated U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Yes, you read that right — Iran. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on the people of Iran with the aim of achieving regime change in that country. Ordinarily, however, sanctions apply to American citizens. If Americans violate U.S. sanctions (or embargoes, like the decades-long embargo against Cuba), they are sent to jail and fined by the U.S. government.

But here’s the catch: The U.S. government wants not just Americans to obey its sanctions. It expects the entire world to obey its dictates. That’s the way the U.S. Empire works. It claims worldwide jurisdiction for its decrees, edicts, and laws. Thus, when President Trump issues a decree that says “No more trading with Iran,” the people of the United States are, of course, expected to comply with it but so are the people of China and every other country in the world. If foreigners refuse to comply with Trump’s dictatorial edicts and instead continue trading with Iran, they are arrested, extradited, prosecuted, incarcerated in a U.S. penitentiary, and fined.

That’s how they were able to induce Canadian officials to intercept Meng as she was changing planes in Vancouver. They told Canadian officials that Meng had violated their sanctions on Iran and to take her into custody so that she could be extradited to the United States to stand trial and be punished for her economic crime.

But Meng is no ordinary Chinese citizen. She is the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, which is one of China’s biggest technology firms. She is also the daughter of the firm’s founder.

The result was — and is — inevitable and predictable. The Chinese communist regime is not about to take this passively. Not very many governments would, including the U.S. government. Imagine the reaction of U.S. officials if Russia were to take a child of Bill Gates into custody for violating Russia’s sanctions on some country.

So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that China has now taken into custody two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, who runs cultural exchanges with North Korea.

The charge against both men? “Suspicion of engaging in activities that endanger national security.”

The operative words are: “national security.” You see, like the United States, China is a national-security state. That means that, like the United States, they have a Pentagon, CIA, and NSA. It also means that, like the United States, the Chinese national-security establishment has omnipotent to do whatever they want to people — detain them indefinitely, torture them, and even assassinate them.

Let’s be clear about this type of war: China has a better chance of winning it than the United States. That’s because it is still difficult for the U.S. government to relate every U.S. crime to “national security,” which would then permit the Pentagon and CIA to behave like the Chinese national-security establishment — i.e., indefinite detention, torture, and assassination. There is still a large area of American law that is still subject to traditional due-process principles, including those in the Bill of Rights.

China, on the other hand, is a communist state, one that has no such constraints. It has the power to do whatever it wants to people. Kovrig and Spavor are good examples. Their activity on behalf of the “International Crisis Group” and cultural exchanges with North Korea have no more to do with “national security” than does Meng’s supposed violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The point is this: No American and no Canadian who travels into China can feel safe under this type of war. Sure, the odds against being one of the ones targeted for retaliation are low. Nonetheless, the possibility exists of being used as a retaliatory pawn.

The U.S. government is in the wrong on this war, all the way around. All that U.S. officials are accomplishing is another one of their endless crises to get people all riled up about, this time against a big communist state. Imagine that: Crises with Russia and China at the same time, just like during the Cold War.

The fact is that there should be no sanctions against the people of Iran or anyone else and, therefore, no criminal charges against anyone, especially foreigners, for violating U.S. sanctions. The best thing U.S. officials could do for the American people and everyone else around the world is dismiss their ridiculous charges against Meng Wanzhou and, even better, terminate their brutal and corrupt system of sanctions and embargoes against everyone.​

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Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.