Business as Weapon: How International Trade Becomes a Missile

Adnan Zai
5 min readOct 1, 2021

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f the last year has taught the world anything, it is that the government and (just about) anything else don’t mix. More than one family dinner has been ruined by politics, and politics has even creeped into talk of vaccines and keeping our country safe from Covid-19. Although the emphasis of the politics of the pandemic has made the eradication of the disease more difficult, the past weekend reminded the world that politics can even creep into the international affairs of business. And for those who have been made pawns in the political game, years of their lives have been wasted so that their governments could make a political stand.

As the World Watched

When Michael Kovrig and Michal Spavor landed in Calgary, Alberta early last Saturday, after 33 months of being confined in China, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was there to welcome them back to their home country. The apprehension of these two businessmen was a reaction to Chinese native Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Canada, a move that many around the world characterized as “hostage politics.” Meng is the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei Technologies, and the daughter of the founder, and Canada detained her on a U.S. extradition request. In a move that could only be described as “tit-for-tat,” the Canadian businessmen were arrested and detained for over 3 years, in much less favorable conditions than Meng herself.

Meng was returned to China this weekend as the Canadian businessmen were brought back to their home country, and her homecoming was broadcast on state television, a reminder that she has become a symbol of China’s rise in global economics. In fact, China maintains that her detention was motivated by an attempt to thwart China’s technological development. On Friday, Meng and federal prosecutors had reached an agreement that the fraud charges against her would be deferred until next year, and in return she agreed to her liability for misstating her company’s business enterprises in Iran.

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Adnan Zai

As an Advisor-In-Residence, Adnan particularly focuses on strategy, deal pipeline, and structuring.