Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

Huawei CEO Says Company Doesn’t Spy for China, Praises Trump in Charm Offensive

January 15, 2019

Image result for Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, photos

Photo: Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei


Ren Zhengfei, founder of the Chinese tech giant, says no law forces companies in China to install ‘mandatory back doors’

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei in Shenzhen, China, on Tuesday.
Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei in Shenzhen, China, on Tuesday. PHOTO: THEODORE KAYE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

SHENZHEN, China—The founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies Co. said his company has never spied for the Chinese government—and never would—as he made a rare public appearance following the arrest of his daughter in Canada.

“No law requires any company in China to install mandatory back doors,” Ren Zhengfei said Tuesday. “I personally would never harm the interest of my customers and me and my company would not answer to such requests.”

Mr. Ren’s public comments at Huawei’s campus are his first in years and come as the telecom giant faces challenges on multiple fronts. His daughter, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, is fighting extradition to the U.S., where prosecutors accuse her of lying about the company’s business with Iran, Huawei has been blocked from several key markets and last week one of its employees was arrested in Poland and charged with espionage.

Mr. Ren didn’t say what specifically he would do to resist requests from the Chinese government. All companies doing business in China are required by law to hand over customer data to the government in cases that touch on national security. In China, national-security threats are broadly defined and can include speech critical of the Communist Party.

Mr. Ren said he missed his daughter, but was optimistic justice would prevail. Ms. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities. She denies the charges.

Huawei’s reclusive 74-year-old founder, a former army engineer, also praised President Trump as a “great president” and maintained Huawei is owned by its employees. The U.S. has raised concerns about Huawei’s ties to the Chinese state and that its telecom equipment could be used by Beijing to spy.

Mr. Ren’s public appearance comes days after the arrest of a Huawei employee in Poland who was charged with spying on the state on behalf of China. Huawei has fired the employee, Wang Weijing, and said his alleged actions have nothing to do with the company.

The events have rocked China, set back efforts toward a Beijing-Washington trade detente and dealt a direct blow to one of the country’s most successful global corporations. A Chinese court on Monday ordered the death penalty for a Canadian national convicted of drug smuggling, the latest example of how Canada has become caught up in the battle between the U.S. and China following the detention of Ms. Meng.

With 180,000 employees, Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment, where it competes with Sweden’s Ericsson AB and Finland’s Nokia Corp. in making gear like routers, switches and base stations. It overtook Apple Inc. to become the world’s No. 2 global smartphone vendor, behind Samsung Electronics Co. , through the third quarter of last year.

Ren’s Rise

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei rose from an army engineer to lead one of China’s tech champions.

1944 — Mr. Ren is born in a rural village in China’s Guizhou Province.
1963 — He attends the Chongqing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture.
1974 — Mr. Ren joins the People’s Liberation Army’s engineering corps. He is sent to Liaoyang near the North Korean border to help build a synthetic fiber factory.
1982 — Mr. Ren attends the 12th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party as a reward for his contributions in the army.
1983 — He retires from the military after the engineering corps is disbanded and later joins a Shenzhen state-owned oil corporation.
1087 — Mr. Ren establishes Huawei in Shenzhen with 21,000 yuan (about $5,600 at the time).
2001 — Huawei establishes its U.S. subsidiary Futurewei in Plano, Texas.
Huawei discloses Mr. Ren’s daughter Meng Wanzhou had been appointed as CFO and to the board of directors.
2012 — The U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence releases a report that says Huawei is a national security threat and recommends U.S. companies not use its equipment.
Mr. Ren attends the World Economic Forum at Davos and rebuts charges Huawei is a national security threat.
2018 — AT&T backs out of a deal to sell Huawei smartphones in the U.S. The American campaign against Huawei escalates.
2018 — Ms. Meng is arrested in Canada on U.S. charges that she lied to banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

Source: staff reports

In addition to hitting back against claims that Huawei is national-security threat, Mr. Ren reiterated that Huawei is purely owned by its employees, with its shareholders numbering nearly 97,000, and said no outside entity holds any stake in the company.

“There is no external institution that owns our shares—even 1 cent,” Mr. Ren said.

Speaking with reporters under a green and gold chandelier in an opulent meeting room on Huawei’s Shenzhen campus, Mr. Ren also praised President Trump’s tax-cutting agenda, but said a trade war between the U.S. and China would harm the world.

“In the information society, interdependence between one another is very significant,” he said. “That interdependence is what’s driving human progress forward more rapidly.”

Huawei has been dogged for years by allegations that is a security threat. It has been effectively locked out of the U.S. telecom market since a 2012 Congressional report raised concerns that its gear could be used by Beijing to spy on Americans, which Huawei has forcefully denied.

Spy chiefs from Australia to the U.K. have signaled concern that China could use Huawei for espionage, though no evidence of back doors or hacks related to the company has been produced. The U.S. has been pressing allies to shun Huawei gear in advance of an expected rollout of next-generation 5G networks, expected to allow faster connection speeds and a fuel a boom in connected devices, from autonomous vehicles to remote-controlled medical equipment.

Australia and New Zealand, key U.S. allies, have banned Huawei from their 5G network upgrades. Japan has excluded it from government purchasing while the U.K. and Canada have said they are reviewing their telecom supply chains.

Mr. Ren spoke with reporters under a green and gold chandelier in an opulent meeting room on Huawei’s Shenzhen campus.
Mr. Ren spoke with reporters under a green and gold chandelier in an opulent meeting room on Huawei’s Shenzhen campus. PHOTO: QILAI SHEN/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Despite the barriers, Huawei said last month it expected to report that 2018 revenue rose 21% to $108.5 billion. Mr. Ren said the company has already signed 30 5G commercial contracts and shipped 25,000 5G base stations out of China.

“We’re not a public company. We don’t care so much about beautiful balance sheets,” said Mr. Ren, who alternated between reading from prepared remarks and casually holding forth on the company’s history and vision. “As long as we can keep our employees fed I believe there will be a future for Huawei.”

Much of the suspicion around Huawei has centered on Mr. Ren himself—in particular his years spent in the Chinese military before founding the telecom giant. In their 2012 report, Congressional investigators said Huawei refused to describe Mr. Ren’s full military background, and that they “struggled to get answers” about whether his military ties played any role in the company’s development.

Mr. Ren maintains a tight grip on the company, but avoids the spotlight—rarely giving interviews and delegating public appearances to deputies. One of his last major public addresses was in 2015 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he discussed his military days and Huawei’s origins and rebutted spying charges.

On Tuesday Mr. Ren returned to the subject of his military experience, explaining that as an engineer he helped establish a synthetic-textile factory in the northeastern city of Liaoyang. Mr. Ren left the military in 1983, four years before founding Huawei.

He also addressed another sticking point in his background: his attendance at a 1982 National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. He said he was invited as a reward for a widely publicized device he invented while in the military.

“Today, I still love my country,” Mr. Ren said. “I support the Communist Party of China, but I will never do anything to harm any other nation.”

Write to Dan Strumpf at and Josh Chin at


Huawei founder breaks silence to dismiss claims of spying by company

January 15, 2019

Ren Zhengfei speaks out after arrest of his daughter in Canada Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Save to myFT

By Yuan Yang in Shenzhen

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei hit back at claims that his company is used by the Chinese government for spying, using a rare meeting with the media following the arrest of his daughter from jail in Canada.

Image result for Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, photos

Photo: Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei

Mr Ren was speaking to journalists in Shenzhen on Tuesday after Meng Wanzhou, his daughter and Huawei’s chief financial officer, was arrested in Vancouver in December. Ms Meng faces extradition to the US on allegations that Huawei sold US-made equipment to Iran.

The Huawei Case Just Got (More) Political

Meng Wanzhou

The reclusive former Chinese army officer said Huawei had “never received any request from any government to provide improper information” and missed his daughter “very much”. “I still love my country, I support the Communist party, but I will never do anything to harm any country in the world,” he said, echoing earlier dismissals of allegations that Huawei was involved in espionage.

Image result for Huawei, 5G, photos

Ms Meng’s detention came against a backdrop of heightened international concern over Huawei’s alleged links to the Chinese government, and amid broader US angst over China’s rising technology capabilities. Several countries, including the UK, Australia and the US, have tightened oversight of the company and in some cases blocked its involvement in building the 5G next generation telecoms networks.

Last week, a Huawei executive was arrested in Poland on allegations of spying for China’s secret service. Huawei subsequently fired the employee. In an overture to Donald Trump, who has said he would be willing to intervene in Ms Meng’s case to secure a trade deal with China, Mr Ren described the US president as “great”, and noted that his tax cuts had been good for American industry.

“The message to the US I want to communicate is: collaboration and shared success. In our world of high tech, it’s increasingly impossible for any single company or country to sustain or to support the world’s needs,” Mr Ren said.

Recommended Huawei under fire In response to fears over the security of Huawei’s equipment

Mr Ren said “no law in China requires any company to install mandatory backdoors”. He added that the company has had “no serious security incident”. Mr Ren also downplayed the risk Huawei faced from being blocked from the rollout of 5G by some countries.

“It’s always been the case, you can’t work with everyone . . . we’ll shift our focus to better serve countries that welcome Huawei,” he said, adding that the company had 30 contracts globally to build 5G networks. Seeking to shed some light on Huawei’s opaque ownership, Mr Ren said he owned 1.14 per cent of the company’s shares.

Ms Meng’s arrest also sparked a sharp backlash from Beijing. Chinese officials have since detained at least two Canadian citizens and just this week a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling was sentenced to death by a Chinese court, overturning a previous 15-year sentence. Mr Ren maintained that the alleged Chinese hacking of the African Union headquarters, revealed last year, had “nothing to do with Huawei”.


Image result for CIA, seal, floor, pictures

But Huawei, which has been specially designated as a “national champion,” has an even more important assignment from the Communist Party than simply listening in on phone conversations, critics say.

China's J-20 stealth fighter is only the world’s second operational stealth fighter, giving Beijing a distinct edge in the Asian arms race. Picture: People's Daily

China’s J-20 stealth fighter Picture: People’s Daily

Why Trump’s America is rethinking engagement with China

January 15, 2019

The more aggressive US approach is part of a strategic shift that goes well beyond the trade war

Image result for china, map, flag

By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington

When Donald Trump sat down to dinner with Xi Jinping last month at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, the US president did not know about the diplomatic bomb that was about to explode. At about the same time, police in Canada arrested a Chinese telecoms executive after an extradition request from Washington.

The detention of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, was extraordinary because the US justice department had not told the White House about the warrant to arrest the daughter of the founder of the telecoms group, one of China’s most successful and influential companies.

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at a dinner meeting on Dec. 1 Photographer: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

But the importance of the arrest went well beyond the immediate circumstances. It is the most striking symbol yet of the dramatic deterioration in relations between China and a US that is increasingly suspicious of Beijing’s motives and actions. Reinforcing the rupture, the US several weeks later charged two Chinese nationals with conducting a global hacking campaign to assist the Chinese intelligence services.

While the trade war has received the most attention, the economic tussle is part of a much more profound shift in the US that has seen Washington reverse important elements of the strategy of engaging with its Asian rival that was first introduced more than 40 years ago by Richard Nixon.

East meets West.  Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

Support for this change in approach has a broad base in the US. Officials across the US government have become significantly more hawkish towards China— over everything from human rights, politics and business to national security. At the same time, US companies and academics who once acted as a buffer against the harshest views are now far less sanguine.

“China has for some time underestimated the extent to which the mood in the US has shifted,” says Hank Paulson, the former US Treasury secretary. “

The attitude that they would implement reforms at a timetable that made sense to them missed the fact that this was no longer sustainable if they wanted the US to keep its markets open to them. And the US business community now supports a harder line.”

Hank Paulson at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Nov. 7.
Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg


While Mr Trump likes to describe China’s president Mr Xi as his friend, his White House signalled a major shift away from China when it labelled the nation a “revisionist power” in its December 2017 National Security Strategy.

In October, Mike Pence, vice-president, hammered home that message in a speech at the Hudson Institute that charged China with a litany of offences — from political repression at home to coercive diplomacy abroad. The rhetoric has been matched with action.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the Hudson Institute,  October 4, 2018

In the South China Sea, the US Navy is now conducting frequent freedom of navigation operations to push back against Chinese sovereignty claims over disputed reefs and islands. Meanwhile, the justice department created a “China initiative” task force to crack down on espionage.

While Ms Meng was arrested for allegedly helping her telecoms company violate US sanctions on Iran, US officials have long worried that Huawei could help China spy on rivals.

Those concerns escalated last year, culminating in the US convincing its Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partners — Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain — that they needed to take a much tougher line on Huawei, according to one person familiar with the situation.

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While concerns about China have risen in parallel with its emergence as a rival to the US, Washington has concluded that it has underestimated the speed at which it has caught up with the US in terms of technology — particularly technology with military applications.

Dennis Wilder, former head of China analysis at the CIA, says that as the US war on terror has receded in urgency, intelligence and national security officials have now woken up to the fact that China was using a “whole-of-society” approach to collecting intelligence, and that the openness of the west to Chinese scientists, students and business people had become an “Achilles heel”.

“The Chinese intelligence operations were astoundingly successful in providing the military and other state-owned enterprises with the secrets to enable technological leaps that could only be possible with the theft of advanced critical technology from the US, Japan and Europe,” Mr Wilder says.

Mr Trump and his trade war have done a lot to change the mood but many experts say China would have faced a harsher climate regardless of whether he had won the 2016 election. One of the few areas where Democrats and Republicans are united is over the need to adopt a tougher stance towards Beijing.

Lindsey Ford, a former Pentagon official under Barack Obama, says US military officials started to become much more concerned about China in the second half of his administration, when it appeared that Mr Xi was abandoning the “hide and bide” low-profile approach espoused by former leader Deng Xiaoping.

This was most striking in the rapid land reclamation in the South China Sea, where it installed weapons systems on some islands despite Mr Xi having pledged to Mr Obama in 2015 that China had “no intention to militarise” them.

Image result for xi jinping, donald trump, Mar-a-Lago, al jazeera, photos

U.S. President Donald Trump with his guest Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, April 2017

Ms Ford says the South China Sea activity was “the clearest signal that the game seemed to have shifted and that China’s own calculations about how much risk it was willing to accept . . . was no longer the same”.

At the same time that its navy has become more assertive, China has developed weapons-related technologies at a much faster pace than many US analysts once thought likely. Underscoring how the gap between the US and China has shrunk, General Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, warned in June that “if we sit back and don’t react, we will lose our technological superiority in 2020”.

The Pentagon is also concerned about the vulnerability of its military supply chains because of components made in China. Washington is raising red flags about activities aimed at stealing US technology — whether via Chinese nationals working in American university labs or cyber espionage.

One person familiar with the situation says US officials realised how much more vigilant they needed to become when they discovered just how much similarity there was between the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jet and the American F-35. To tackle the threat, the US has significantly stepped up the vetting of Chinese nationals who apply to study sensitive subjects in America.

Christopher Wray, FBI director, last year warned Congress that US universities were naive about the potential for Chinese nationals to collect intelligence on their campuses.

Image result for John Demers, bloomberg, pictures

John Demers, assistant attorney-general for national security at the justice department, says 90% of economic espionage cases against the US in the past seven years have involved China © Bloomberg

John Demers, head of the justice department’s China Initiative, recently told the Senate judiciary committee that 90 per cent of economic espionage cases over the past seven years involved China. When the US charged the hackers in December, it said Beijing had breached a 2015 deal that neither nation would steal intellectual property for commercial advantages.

The US is also concerned about China trying to recruit American spies. In his testimony, Mr Demers said the justice department had an “unprecedented” three cases against former US intelligence officers accused of spying for China. In May, the US charged a former CIA operative named Jerry Lee with illegally possessing secret information.

The CIA believes he provided Beijing with details about its spying operation in China. One person familiar with the situation says his actions dealt a catastrophic blow to the CIA’s network — as many spies were arrested or executed.

Mike Pence, US vice-president, has hammered home the American message that China is a ‘revisionist power’ © AP The US also believes that two suspected Chinese cyber attacks — one in 2015 on the Office of Personnel Management which maintains government employee records, and another later on the Marriott hotel group — were part of an operation designed to help China identify covert US intelligence operatives in the country.

As the US strikes a tougher tone, China is losing constituencies that once helped balance the more hawkish views in security circles. US academics who were seen as friendly to China are becoming warier as Beijing cracks down on human rights — such as the mass detention of Uighurs in Xinjiang, failures to follow through on economic pledges, pressures on US scholars to toe the party line and moves backwards in terms of political reform.

“People I’ve known for decades have given up on China,” says Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st century China Center at the University of California San Diego.

“There’s a widespread view in the academic community that the overreaching China has done both domestically and internationally is hard-baked into the system and that there’s no hope of getting them to adjust their behaviour to our interests and values.”

A turning point that alarmed Washington came in late 2017 when Mr Xi did not name a successor at the Communist party’s 19th congress. He also pledged that China would become a fully modern economy by 2035 — picking a date that some saw as another sign that he intended to remain in power following his second five-year term. In a further sign of centralising power, the National People’s Congress approved last March a change in the constitution to remove the two-term limit on the presidency.

More recently, Mr Xi reignited concerns that he was moving backwards on promised reforms when he used a speech commemorating China’s economic opening 40 years ago to stress the primacy of the party. “No one is in a position to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done,” he said in December. One senior US administration official says China has misread the change of mood in the US, adding that “even more disturbingly, they just don’t care”.

The official says the fact that Mr Xi’s speech had focused on “the growing role of the Communist party in every aspect of economic, political and personal life in China” suggested that Beijing was not taking the US concerns seriously.

Image result for F-35B stealth fighters, photos

F-35B stealth fighter

“I don’t see signs of a course shift by the top leadership,” says the official. “I never thought China would aspire to be a Jeffersonian democracy or espouse the western liberal order,” says Mr Paulson.

“I always thought the Communist party would be paramount, but I didn’t see the clock being turned back.” Ms Shirk says a major reason for the growing US backlash is that the business community has “really soured on China”. “Right now, it is totally out of balance because the national security concerns are completely dominating the process and the business community isn’t resisting,” she says.

Ryan Hass, a former White House official now at the Brookings Institution, says many US companies had “promise fatigue”. While many did not agree with the approach Mr Trump was taking on trade, they wanted him to be tough on China on market access and were “trying to use Trump’s instincts for disruption [to] their advantage”.

“The Chinese leadership has promised for years that reform was around the bend and then you see things like President Xi’s speech where he emphasised the central role of the party,” says Mr Hass. “Members of the business community see the Trump administration as an opportunity for the US to rattle the cage in Beijing.”

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Former state department official Susan Thornton says the wider relationship with China is being ignored inside the administration © Bloomberg

Susan Thornton, the top Asia official at the state department until last summer, says many of the grievances had existed for years but Mr Trump was giving them impetus because there was no one inside his administration who was weighing those concerns against the broader China relationship.

“There is no one imposing discipline right now. Everybody has now got a hunting licence. It is open season on China,” says Ms Thornton. One reason the Chinese may have been blindsided by the changing US approach is that Mr Trump rarely raises security issues.

“Trump never brings up any of that stuff in meetings with the Chinese,” she says. “He won’t bring up Taiwan or the South China Sea, or nuclear missiles or arms control, or espionage.”

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The new era of US-China decoupling Just before New Year,

Mr Trump tweeted that he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart and that there had been “big progress” on trade.

But the landscape has changed so dramatically that most China experts believe the relationship will become much more rocky even if there is an agreement on trade. “I am cautiously optimistic that President Trump will be able to declare a trade victory and end the tariff war,” says Mr Paulson.

“But there will still be so many intractable economic and security issues that this will continue to be a very fraught relationship.”

Arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou Exposed China’s World Domination Plan

December 23, 2018

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Vancouver on Dec. 6 led to immediate blowback.

Furious Chinese Communists have begun arresting innocent Canadians in retaliation. So far, three of these “revenge hostages” have been taken and are being held in secret jails on vague charges. Beijing hints that the hostage count may grow if Meng is not freed and fast.

Even for a thuggish regime like China’s, this kind of action is almost unprecedented.

So who is Meng Wanzhou?

By Steven W. Mosher

China's J-20 stealth fighter is only the world’s second operational stealth fighter, giving Beijing a distinct edge in the Asian arms race. Picture: People's Daily

China’s J-20 stealth fighter is only the world’s second operational stealth fighter, giving Beijing a distinct edge in the Asian arms race. Picture: People’s DailySource:Supplied

Currently under house arrest and awaiting extradition to the US, she will face charges that her company violated US sanctions by doing business with Iran and committed bank fraud by disguising the payments it received in return.

But to say that she is the CFO of Huawei doesn’t begin to explain her importance — or China’s reaction.

The Huawei Case Just Got (More) Political

Meng Wanzhou

It turns out that “Princess” Meng, as she is called, is Communist royalty. Her grandfather was a close comrade of Chairman Mao during the Chinese Civil War, who went on to become vice governor of China’s largest province.

She is also the daughter of Huawei’s Founder and Chairman, Ren Zhengfei. Daddy is grooming her to succeed him when he retires.

In other words, Meng is the heiress apparent of China’s largest and most advanced hi-tech company, and one which plays a key role in China’s grand strategy of global domination.

Huawei is a leader in 5G technology and, earlier this year, surpassed Apple to become the second largest smartphone maker in the world behind Samsung.

Image result for Huawei, pictures, logo

But Huawei is much more than an innocent manufacturer of smartphones.

It is a spy agency of the Chinese Communist Party.

How do we know?

Because the party has repeatedly said so.

First in 2015 and then again in June 2017, the party declared that all Chinese companies must collaborate in gathering intelligence.

“All organizations and citizens,” reads Article 7 of China’s National Intelligence Law, “must support, assist with, and collaborate in national intelligence work, and guard the national intelligence work secrets they are privy to.”

All Chinese companies, whether they are private or owned by the state, are now part and parcel of the party’s massive overseas espionage campaign.

Huawei is a key part of this aggressive effort to spy on the rest of the world. The company’s smartphones, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray, can be used to “maliciously modify or steal information,” as well as “conduct undetected espionage.” Earlier this year the Pentagon banned the devices from all US military bases worldwide.

Image result for CIA, seal, floor, pictures

But Huawei, which has been specially designated as a “national champion,” has an even more important assignment from the Communist Party than simply listening in on phone conversations.

As a global leader in 5G technology, it has been tasked with installing 5G “fiber to the phone” networks in countries around the world.

In fact, “Made in China 2025” — the party’s aggressive plan to dominate the cutting-edge technologies of the 21st century — singles out Huawei as the key to achieving global 5G dominance.

Any network system installed by a company working hand-in-glove with China’s intelligence services raises the danger of not only cyber espionage, but also cyber-enabled technology theft.

And the danger doesn’t stop there.

The new superfast 5G networks, which are 100 times faster than 4G, will literally run the world of the future. Everything from smartphones to smart cities, from self-driving vehicles to, yes, even weapons systems, will be under their control.

In other words, whoever controls the 5G networks will control the world — or at least large parts of it.

Huawei has reportedly secured more than 25 commercial contracts for 5G, but has been locked out of an increasing number of countries around the world because of spying concerns.

The “Five Eyes” — Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the US — have over the past year waged a concerted campaign to block the Chinese tech giant from dominating next-generation wireless networks around the world. Not only have they largely kept Huawei out of their own countries, they have convinced other countries like Japan, India and Germany to go along, too.

Yet Huawei is far from finished. The company has grown into a global brand over the past two decades because, as a “national champion,” it is constantly being fed and nourished by the party and the military with low-interest-rate loans, privileged access to a protected domestic market, and other preferential treatment.

These various state subsidies continue, giving Huawei a huge and unfair advantage over its free market competitors.

Huawei stands in the same relationship to the Chinese Communist Party as German steelmaker Alfried Krupp did to Germany’s National Socialists in the days leading up to WWII.

Just as Germany’s leading supplier of armaments basically became an arm of the Nazi machine after war broke out, so is China’s leading hi-tech company an essential element of the party’s cold war plan to dominate the world of the future.

As far as “Princess” Meng is concerned, I expect that she will be found guilty of committing bank fraud, ordered to pay a fine, and then released. Even a billion dollar fine would be chump change for a seventy-five-billion-dollar corporation like Huawei.

The real payoff of her arrest lies elsewhere. It has exposed the massive campaign of espionage that Huawei is carrying out around the world at the behest of the Party. It has revealed how that Party dreams of a new world order in which China, not America, is dominant.

The two Chinese characters that make up Huawei’s name literally mean, “To Serve China.” That’s clear enough, isn’t it?

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.”


Israel-Saudi rapprochement said to face setback due to Khashoggi murder fallout

December 18, 2018

Two aides to crown prince fired following backlash were deeply involved in Riyadh’s covert outreach to Jerusalem, Wall Street Journal reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 23, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the Future Investment Initiative conference, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 23, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)

    Israel-Saudi rapprochement said to face setback due to Khashoggi murder fallout

    The ongoing secret rapprochement with Saudi Arabia has reportedly been hindered by the international backlash over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    The US-based writer was killed on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, with the CIA concluding Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was at least aware of the plan.

    In the international fallout, two key aides to the crown prince have lost their jobs.

    Citing several unnamed officials “familiar with the matter,” the WSJ report says that both sacked officials — Saud al-Qahtani and Ahmed al-Assiri — were deeply involved in Riyadh’s outreach to Israel, which has now faced a setback.

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    Qahtani, a media adviser, reportedly ordered Saudi press to soften Israel’s image as an enemy, and his subordinate Assiri made several secret visits to the Jewish state — making him the highest-ranked Saudi official to visit the country. The discussions were said to focus on purchasing Israeli surveillance software.

    The report adds that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen met Saudi officials several times during the past year. It says Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates regularly share intelligence information with one another on Iran and on transit through the Red Sea.


    Covert Saudi Outreach to Israel Sputters After Journalist’s Murder

    December 18, 2018

    Prince Mohammed’s weakened role after the Khashoggi killing sets back efforts to forge closer ties with Israel, including meetings among top spies, technology sales and eased travel

    Image result for Mohammed bin Salman, pictures, soldiers salute



    A secretive U.S.-backed initiative to forge closer ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel faces setbacks after the crown prince, who spearheaded the effort, was implicated in a journalist’s killing along with two of his aides.

    The two close advisers to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who played key roles in the behind-the-scenes contacts between the two countries, lost their jobs over suspected involvement in the operation that led to journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October.

    The international uproar that followed the murder and the fallout within the royal court also curbed the prince’s room to maneuver among prospective rivals and dampened appetite for risky foreign policy endeavors such as the outreach to Israel, a longtime foe, say people familiar with the situation.

    “Things have definitely cooled off right after Khashoggi’s murder,” said a senior Saudi government official. “The last thing the kingdom wants is for this to come out now and cause another backlash.”

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    Before he was sidelined, Saud al-Qahtani was one of two aides to Prince Mohammed who helped quietly pave the way for smoother relations with Israel. Mr. Qahtani, as media adviser, issued directives to the Saudi press to help soften Israel’s image.

    The two aides, former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, played important roles in the clandestine outreach to Israel, according to people familiar with their work. Saudi Arabia doesn’t officially recognize Israel.

    Mr. Qahtani, as media adviser, issued directives to the Saudi press to help soften Israel’s image in the kingdom, where the country has long been portrayed as the Zionist enemy. He was also involved in the kingdom’s purchase of advanced surveillance technology from Israeli firms, say Saudi officials. That brief dovetailed with his role monitoring critics and stifling dissent in Saudi Arabia, which included the hacking of electronic communications.

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    Former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri was the most senior Saudi official to travel to Israel before he, too, lost his job for his suspected involvement in Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. PHOTO:FAYEZ NURELDINE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

    Maj. Gen. Assiri, a subordinate of Mr. Qahtani, secretly traveled to Israel on several occasions, making him the most senior Saudi official known to have set foot in the country, according to several people familiar with the matter. His trips focused on how the kingdom could benefit from Israel’s state-of-the-art surveillance technology, some of the people said.

    Mr. Qahtani and Maj. Gen. Assiri didn’t respond to text messages seeking comment. Spokespeople for the Saudi government didn’t respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople for Israel’s government declined to comment.

    Their dismissal highlights a bigger problem for the diplomatic initiative: the crown prince’s diminished role in the wake of the Khashoggi murder.

    King Salman, who has taken a more active role in government in the aftermath of the Khashoggi crisis, has been more adverse to warmer ties with Israel than his 33-year-old son, recently describing resolving the Palestinian’s plight with Israel as the kingdom’s “foremost priority” in the region.

    The setback to burgeoning links between the Saudi kingdom and Israel also throws into doubt the broader realignment in the region that the Trump administration sees as crucial to its Middle East strategy, including containing Iran and resolving the decadeslong conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.

    Still, Saudi-Israeli ties will likely endure despite the setbacks due to shared business and security interests.


    Israeli companies consider Saudi Arabia a lucrative market for their cybersecurity products and have weighed investing in and supplying technology to the crown prince’s prize project Neom, a futuristic technology-driven city still in the early construction stages.

    The Saudi government, meanwhile, has been weighing an investment of at least $100 million in various Israeli technology companies, according to people familiar with the deal. Since the Khashoggi killing, negotiations on that deal have cooled but contacts continue, some of these people said.

    Saudi Arabia and Israel have edged closer despite the sizable political risks in the kingdom to be seen cozying up to a country widely reviled in the Arab world for occupying Palestinian territory and depriving the Palestinians a state of their own.

    Saudi leaders have kept their links to Israel secret, worried about the political costs of a more open relationship with Israel.

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    Mossad Director Yossi Cohen met Saudi officials several times over the past year, say people familiar with the matter.

    On Israel’s side, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen met Saudi officials several times over the past year, say the people familiar with the matter, including a June meeting with senior Saudi officials at a U.S.-brokered rendezvous that also included Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian intelligence officers.

    Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates now regularly share intelligence on shared threats, mostly on transit through the Red Sea but also on other matters related to Iran, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Image result for 3-D presentation during an exhibition on Neom, photos

    Visitors last year watched a 3-D presentation during an exhibition on Neom, a planned futuristic technology-driven city that Israeli companies have considered investing in. PHOTO: FAISAL AL NASSER/REUTERS

    Israel and Saudi Arabia began to draw closer in the twilight of the Obama administration, their approach smoothed by a shared antipathy toward an Iran nuclear deal that both governments believed would empower their rival.

    When Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, Israel and Saudi Arabia seized on a friendlier White House to advance shared regional goals, above all curbing the influence of Iran and of its proxies. The next year, after Prince Mohammed became heir apparent to the Saudi throne, the outreach to Israel intensified.

    Image result for Netanyahu, with israel flag, photos
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seen last month at a cabinet meeting, was one of few world leaders who came out in Prince Mohammed’s support after the Khashoggi murder.

    The closer relationship has benefited both sides. Following the global backlash to Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of few world leaders who came out in Prince Mohammed’s support despite the CIA’s conclusion that he had likely ordered the killing. Several senators who received a CIA briefing said they believe he ordered the murder.

    The Israeli leader warned that a destabilized Saudi Arabia would imperil the region and the world. The Saudi government denies that Prince Mohammed had any role in the crime.

    Saudi Arabia has quietly began issuing a special waiver to Israeli businessmen that allows them to travel to the kingdom on special documents, people familiar with the process said. The documents, provided by the government of Saudi Arabia and aimed at facilitating business between the two countries, allow Israelis to enter the kingdom without showing Israeli passports.

    Among that business is technology that Saudis use to monitor its critics.

    Mr. Qahtani, the media adviser, sought out software made by Israeli spyware maker NSO Group and its affiliate, Q Cyber Technology, which began providing the kingdom cyber surveillance tools last year in a $55 million deal, said Saudi officials.

    “Qahtani was the key player in all of this,” said one Saudi official. “He wanted the best and he knew that Israeli firms offered the best.”

    NSO said it licenses its technology to government, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies to help them fight terrorism and crime. It said Mr. Qahtani didn’t buy any software.

    The business contacts weren’t merely transactional: They sent a broader message to the region that Saudi Arabia was open to elevating the bilateral relationship with Israel, however cautiously.

    Since introducing the Arab Peace initiative in 2002, Saudi Arabia’s official position has been not to normalize ties with Israel unless there is a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. The plight of the Palestinians remains a key impediment to progress, especially publicly.

    “The level of direct security, military and intelligence cooperation between Israel and the Gulf states, with America as a partner, is light-years ahead of what it was” a few years ago, said Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman and president of the S. Daniel Abraham center for Middle East Peace. “But without a resolution on the Palestinian-Israeli issue there is a glass ceiling.”

    Write to Felicia Schwartz at, Margherita Stancati at and Summer Said at


    A Death In Silicon Valley ‘With Chinese Characteristics’ — And China’s infiltration of Silicon Valley

    December 15, 2018

    On December 1 the distinguished Chinese quantum physicist, venture capitalist, and Stanford University professor Zhang Shoucheng died in what news reports are calling a suicide.

    Image result for U.S. , China, Flags, pictures

    The news of his death has been upstaged in the media by the arrest that same day of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Chinese IT giant Huawei, in Vancouver (discussed in my last column). Zhang’s death is certainly a much greater human tragedy; but it’s equally significant in drawing attention to the lengths China is going in order to win its battle for high-tech supremacy with the U.S., including on our home turf in Silicon Valley.

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    Zhang Shoucheng

    Zhang Shouchen’s story is like something out of a John Le Carre novel, or maybe David Ignatius’s recent thriller Quantum Spy. Intellectually gifted, with a career laden with academic honors including a distinguished professorship at ShanghaiTech University as well as at Stanford, Zhang’s research in quantum physics even sparked rumors he was a candidate for a Nobel Prize.

    Despite being a naturalized U.S. citizen, Zhang maintained close contact with the Communist regime in China (the head of ShanghaiTech, for example, is the son of former party leader Jiang Zemin). His company Digital Horizon Capital, known by the acronym DHVC, has been identified as part of a major Chinese infiltration effort into Silicon Valley, according to the U.S. Trade Representative Richard (sic) Lighthizer’s latest report on China—a report released just days before Zhang’s death.

    By  Arthur Herman — 

    Lighthizer’s 53-page report—an update of his landmark March 2018 report on China’s unfair trade practices—came out on November 20 and is a devastating expose of China’s “unfair, unreasonable, and market-distorting practices,” including including a major blitz to buy its way into Silicon Valley, in order to harvest the technologies it wants from the best American high-term firms, both large and small.

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    Robert Lighthizer

    Lighthizer’s report specifically named Zhang’s DHVC as part of the “web of entities” set up in Silicon Valley “to further the industrial-policy goals of the Chinese government.” Zhang’s DHVC, as it turns out, is heavily back by the investment arm of an entity called the Zhongguancum Development Corporation (ZDG), a Chinese government state-owned firm, which revealed on its website during DHVC’s launch that Zhang’s outfit was going to focus on innovative technology being fostered at Stanford and elsewhere in Silicon Valley, for the benefit of ZDG.

    Confusing? It’s actually very simple. DHVC was specifically set up to provide a steady stream of American-developed technology and IP to ZDG, which ZDG uses to build up China’s high-tech hubs including ShanghaiTech, as well as companies like Ali Baba and Baidu (who invested heavily in DHVC’s first round of funding). From there those technologies and IP can be used to increase the global market share of Chinese high-tech industry—but also to help to reinforce China’s Great Firewall and closed Internet; its police state surveillance of its citizens; in addition to boosting China’s military competition with the U.S.

    In an ironic twist, Zhang’s associations even have a direct link to Ms. Meng and Huawei, since DHVC also helped to fund a company that provided Huawei phones with the technology to allow users to use their knuckles for activating their phones. That technology is called FingerSense and was developed by Qeeco, which just happens to be a U.S. company—even though both the CIA and FBI have warned against using Huawei phones and AT%T and Verizon won’t sell them.

    There’s no doubt that the Lighthizer report, and news of Ms. Meng’s arrest, made Zhang and his associations increasingly radioactive, especially with the increased scrutiny of China’s infiltration of Silicon Valley. There has been no police investigation of his death on December 1, and his family insist it was a suicide. But there are those who wonder if that claim is accurate, and whether—given Zhang’s far-reaching and potentially explosive knowledge of China’s activities in Silicon Valley–Chinese agents have had a hand in his demise.

    Either way, Zhang’s story is a tragedy. But it is also a warning, that China’s competition with the U.S. for high-tech supremacy involves Beijing establishing beachheads right here in the U.S. These include the place where America’s high-tech crown jewels are kept, namely Silicon Valley. It’s time to take the necessary steps to make sure that we don’t lose those crown jewels through neglect or greed, and thereby lose the high-tech race for the future.

    Neither U.S. Senators nor Trump’s Team Is Lying About Khashoggi’s Killing

    December 15, 2018

    But the White House’s spin tactics are not doing it any favors.

    CIA Director Gina Haspel arrives to brief legislators on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Capitol Hill on Dec. 12. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

    CIA Director Gina Haspel arrives to brief legislators on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Capitol Hill on Dec. 12. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

    The past two weeks have seen the emergence of divergent public interpretations of highly classified CIA assessments on the question of whether Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    On one side, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said respectively that there was “no smoking gun” and “no direct evidence” that the crown prince authorized Khashoggi’s murder. On the other, several senators emerged from a briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel and pronounced that they had no doubt of Mohammed bin Salman’s guilt.

    Who’s telling the truth? Perhaps all of them. The two cabinet secretaries deployed carefully scripted talking points in service of the policy on which President Donald Trump had already decided—an approach dedicated to maintaining the status quo with Saudi Arabia at all costs. Mattis and Pompeo may not have lied—they just didn’t tell the whole truth.

    The senators who accused the crown prince of complicity were outraged by his behavior and seeming expectation of impunity, and by the Trump administration’s willful blindness to the ugly facts and failed attempt to prevent the CIA director from briefing.

    Both versions may be accurate. Intelligence judgments are rarely completely definitive: They are based on an array of information, some of which is subject to interpretation. Given the substantial evidence reportedly pointing to Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement, both cabinet secretaries had to know that they were overstating the case. Anyone with Mattis’s deep experience in consuming intelligence knows there is rarely a smoking gun. Pompeo, formerly the CIA director but also a Harvard University-trained lawyer, fully understands that circumstantial evidence can be as compelling—and as legally probative—as the direct evidence he claims is lacking. And, as Elephants in the Room contributor John Hannah noted in a recent essay for Foreign Policy, critical decisions in national security are often made based on imperfect, or incomplete, intelligence information.

    That said, the spin by Trump’s agents didn’t just fail to convince: It caused collateral damage to their reputations and to the administration’s efforts to defend its Saudi Arabia policy. Hard as it may be for outsiders to believe, credibility is currency on Capitol Hill.

    Senators who believe they were misled will now look at Mattis and Pompeo with a jaundiced eye. The two secretaries have learned a hard lesson: Reputational risk comes with the territory of working for Trump.

    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 13. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

    U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 13. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

    There is a crisis in U.S.-Saudi relations, yet neither government seems to realize it.

    There is a crisis in U.S.-Saudi relations, yet neither government seems to realize it.

    Anger in Congress over the Khashoggi killing has been compounded by the Trump administration’s inept response to it and its ill-advised decision to keep Haspel from an all-senators briefing. Many in Congress seek to end U.S. support for the kingdom’s ill-fated war in Yemen, as evidenced by the Senate’s approval on Dec. 13 of a joint resolution to that effect.

    The same day, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution stating plainly that the body believes that Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for Khashoggi’s death and calling on the kingdom to ensure “appropriate accountability” for all those responsible and moderate its “increasingly erratic foreign policy.”
    While nonbinding, it was drafted in the form of a joint resolution, which means it would be presented to the president for signature or veto if revived in the new Congress (the current House leadership took a procedural step this week that will block consideration of it this year).

    This kind of condemnatory language is usually reserved for adversaries, not longtime partners like Saudi Arabia, and should be a wake-up call for the king and the Trump administration. When the Democrats take power in the House next month, they may pursue other measures. Anyone in the U.S. or Saudi government who believes this matter will soon blow over on Capitol Hill is badly miscalculating.Trump’s unquestioning support for Mohammed bin Salman is putting at risk broader U.S. interests in the Middle East. As longtime Middle East hands Aaron Miller and Richard Sokolsky recently wrote in a piece for Politico, “everything [Mohammed bin Salman] has touched in the region—Yemen, Qatar and Lebanon—has turned into a hot mess in a dumpster fire.”

    Pompeo and Mattis should recognize the danger and push for a reassessment of the U.S. position on the Khashoggi case—and the U.S.-Saudi relationship—rather than engaging in obfuscation.


    See also:

    Neither Side Gets the Khashoggi Debate Right


    Senate Passes Resolution to Withdraw U.S. Support for War in Yemen

    December 13, 2018

    Resolution faces limited prospects for passage in House this year

    Image result for Bernie sanders, AL DRAGO, photos
    Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, was co-sponsor of a resolution to withdraw U.S. support for the war in Yemen.

    WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate ignored appeals by the Trump administration and passed a resolution on Thursday to withdraw U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition at war in Yemen, delivering a bipartisan setback for the president’s Middle East policy.

    The measure, which passed in a 56-41 vote, pits a Senate upset by the October killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents against the Trump administration, which views Saudi Arabia as a vital strategic ally. Seven Republicans joined with all 49 members of the Democratic caucus to support the resolution. Three Republican senators were absent.

    The resolution, sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Mike Lee (R., Utah), would withdraw U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-allied Houthi militants in a conflict that has left tens of thousands dead and pushed millions to the brink of starvation. Among other elements, it would bar U.S. refueling of Saudi planes and scale back the U.S. presence in the region.

    While setting up a clash between the Senate and Trump administration, the resolution is unlikely to affect U.S. military policy in the region. House Republican leaders on Wednesday stopped an effort that would have forced a vote on a similar Yemen resolution on the floor.

    The CIA’s Evidence Linking Saudi Crown Prince to Khashoggi Killing

    The CIA’s Evidence Linking Saudi Crown Prince to Khashoggi Killing
    How did the CIA conclude that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? WSJ’s Warren P. Strobel has an exclusive look at the secretive evidence behind the assessment. Photo: Reuters

    “It’s important to send a message,” Mr. Sanders told reporters before the vote, adding that it could come up next year. “My very strong expectation is that in January, with Democratic control over the House, it will succeed.”

    After the Senate approved the resolution, it also unanimously passed a resolution with broad bipartisan sponsorship that condemned the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and directly connected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the journalist’s death.

    “It’s a strong statement of our condemnation of what has happened. To me, that’s important even if it doesn’t affect policy,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.).

    The Saudi government has repeatedly said the crown prince had no knowledge of the operation.

    The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that the Central Intelligence Agency determined in a highly classified assessment that Prince Mohammed sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed Mr. Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death.

    Senior administration officials urged senators to vote against the Sanders-Lee resolution, arguing that withdrawing U.S. support would only harm the international effort to secure an end to the conflict and hinder efforts to contain Iran.

    A Yemeni man sits in front of a destroyed building allegedly targeted by a Saudi-led airstrike, in San'a, Yemen, earlier this month.
    A Yemeni man sits in front of a destroyed building allegedly targeted by a Saudi-led airstrike, in San’a, Yemen, earlier this month. PHOTO: YAHYA ARHAB/SHUTTERSTOCK

    The congressional action came hours after the warring parties meeting at United Nations-led peace talks in Sweden agreed to a breakthrough deal meant to avert a dangerous military fight over Yemen’s most important port city.

    Martin Griffiths, the U.N. special envoy on Yemen, secured agreement on Thursday from both sides for a peaceful handover of control of the Hodeidah port from Houthi fighters to U.N. forces, a deal designed to avert a risky military fight for the country’s main gateway for humanitarian aid.

    The agreement marked a rare moment of diplomatic success in the four-year-old conflict.

    Mr. Griffiths is hoping to use the peace talks in Sweden as a launching pad for more substantive talks to resolve the war in Yemen, which the U.N. says is home to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

    “The progress on the peace negotiations is not coincidental to this vote,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.). “The United States has said through the Senate that our support for the Saudi-led coalition is no longer open-ended. We expect our partners to be partners in peace.”

    In addition to the Sanders-Lee resolution, the Senate is also reviewing a separate bill introduced last week by Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and Sen. Todd Young (R., Ind.) that would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, sanction people who block humanitarian access in Yemen or aid Houthi rebels there, as well as sanction those responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

    Write to Natalie Andrews at and Dion Nissenbaum at

    Senate votes to condemn Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as responsible for Khashoggi killing

    December 13, 2018

    The Senate cast two historic votes Thursday to end U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen and condemn the Saudi crown prince as responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, delivering clear political rebukes of President Trump’s continued embrace of the kingdom.

    The unanimous vote to hold Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for Khashoggi’s murder reflects the extent to which senators of both parties have grown tired of Trump’s continued defense of Mohammed’s denials. It also puts significant pressure on leaders in the House — where the president’s Saudi policy is a much more partisan issue — to allow members to cast a similar vote condemning the crown prince before the end of the year.

    Regardless, the two Senate votes Thursday set the stage for broader strategic debates about Saudi policy when Congress regroups next year.

    Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) speaks to the media as the Senate prepares to vote on whether to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

    Just before the Senate voted to condemn Mohammed over Khashoggi’s murder, senators voted 56-to-41 vote to end U.S. participation in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen by invoking the War Powers Resolution — the first time a chamber of Congress has ever done so.

    More importantly, the 56-vote majority — a figure that includes seven Republicans — suggests that Saudi critics will still have a majority next year to challenge Trump on Saudi policy. Both Republicans and Democrats have said they plan to pursue sanctions against Saudi officials involved in Khashoggi’s murder, to stop the transfer of nondefensive weapons until Saudi forces withdraw from Yemen, and other measures to restrain a crown prince whom many lawmakers see as out of control.

    “Today we tell the despotic regime in Saudi Arabia that we will not be part of their military adventurism,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who co-sponsored the Yemen resolution with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). “Today, for the first time, we are going to go forward . . . and tell the president of the United States, and any president … that the constitutional responsibility of making war rests in the United States Congress, not the White House.”

    The votes came just hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis briefed House lawmakers behind closed doors — a meeting from which Republicans and Democrats emerged urging very different responses to Saudi Arabia and its crown prince.

    A recent CIA assessment found Mohammed was probably responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist, in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

    “They have to be held responsible,” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said after the briefing, referring to Mohammed and Saudi King Salman.

    But there remain Republicans in the House who defend the crown prince — and those who think that even if he should be called out for his involvement in Khashoggi’s death, the punishment should stop there.

    “We recognize killing journalists is absolutely evil and despicable, but to completely realign our interests in the Middle East as a result of this, when for instance the Russians kill journalists . . . Turkey imprisons journalists?” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said. “It’s not a sinless world out there.”

    That stands in sharp contrast to the Senate, where several Republicans have been encouraging a broad response to Saudi Arabia over not just Khashoggi’s killing and the Yemen war, but the Kingdom’s blockade in Qatar, its recent detainment of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and a slate of human rights abuses they say have compromised the U.S.-Saudi alliance.

    Trump has refused to condemn Mohammed for the killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi national. Pompeo has echoed Trump’s stance in public interviews, and behind closed doors as well, lawmakers said.

    “All we heard today was more disgraceful ducking and dodging by the secretary,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.), who supports bringing up a War Powers resolution in the House to cut off U.S. support for the Saudis’ Yemen war effort. On Wednesday, the House narrowly voted to block rank-and-file members from demanding a floor vote on any such Yemen resolution, after leaders slipped in a rule change to do so into an unrelated agricultural bill.

    House leaders also met with CIA director Gina Haspel on Wednesday to hear the details of Khashoggi’s slaying. But they emerged offering few details about the briefing — or about what step House Democrats would take, once they assume the majority in January, to pursue more punitive measures against Saudi Arabia, beyond holding hearings.

    In the Senate, meanwhile, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are making plans to capi­tal­ize on the Yemen resolution vote with further measures next year — including sanctions on Mohammed and the other Saudis implicated in Khashoggi’s killing, and an order to halt all nondefensive weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia until hostilities in Yemen cease.

    “The current relationship with Saudi Arabia is not working for America,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday, in comments to reporters about what next steps senators planned to take to address Saudi policy. “I’m never going to let this go until things change in Saudi Arabia.”