Yesterday, at the close of the "Transformational Trends 2013 and Beyond" conference hosted in Washington by the Foreign Policy Group and the Department of State, Secretary Clinton offered a wide range of observations on pressing international issues and trends.
When speaking to the issue of the contested Senkaku (Japanese)/Diaoyu (Chinese) islands in the East China Sea, and while stressing that the U.S. has not taken a position on which country has legal sovereignty over the disputed isles, the Secretary offered a colloquial recounting of a Chinese counterpart having suggested that if Japan could simply "nationalize" the East China Sea islands (which are actually little more than large, yet strategic, rocks), then why could not China lay claim to Hawaii?
Secretary Clinton reported having responded something to the effect of "go ahead, and then we'll go to arbitration and prove that we own them." Her point, she went on, is that while the U.S. has not taken a position on the ownership of the Senkaku/Diaoyu, the U.S. feels strongly that the dispute should be settled according to legal principles. Indeed, she made more than one such reference to the need for China to address such and related matters on a "rules-based" basis.
So, recapping, if I understood the Secretary correctly, if China claims sovereignty over the disputed rocks then China should follow rules-based processes to prove its claim.
(For anyone who has been reading this blog over the last two years, you doubtless know where this is going...)
My employer, China-based Huawei Technologies, has for a number of years suffered unfounded, unsubstantiated U.S. Government claims that the company is somehow a threat to U.S. national security. No proof. No rules-based process. Not too different from China staking a wild claim to the Hawaiian islands. With all due respect to the Secretary, the U.S. can't have it both ways.
If we want China to behave according to certain norms, then it is incumbent upon us to set the right example. If the U.S. Government believes that Huawei is somehow more vulnerable to compromise than its competitors which, regardless of country of headquarters, are all also researching and coding and manufacturing in China, then the U.S. Government should follow a rules-based process to prove its claims. And, when those claims are proven to be no less wild than a hypothetical Chinese claim to Hawaii, the U.S. Government should accept reality and bring an end to its opaque, rule-less, market-distorting Huawei blockade.