Connecting the Dots in the Huawei Kidnapping

Mitleser points to an interesting take on the Huawei Kidnapping:

A great explanation of the Huawei Kidnapping, written by a comrade in the Deng Gang Central discord

There may be a lot more than meets the eye in Canada’s shock arrest, at US behest, of Huawei’s CFO and heir apparent Meng Wanzhou (link below).
Chinese sources have assembled the following facts:
• April 2017: A director of Chinese tech giant Huawei personally escorted famed Shanghai-born physicist Zhang Shoucheng from the latter’s hotel in Shenzhen. Jackson & Wood Professor of Physics at Stanford University, Zhang was in town to attend an IT summit.
• Sept. 2018: Prof. Zhang receives a European physics award, one of his many honors. His work in quantum physics is expected to revolutionize the global semiconductor industry.
Yang Zhenning, the first Chinese scientist to receive the Nobel Physics Prize (1957), had predicted that Zhang would be the next one.
• Dec. 1, 2018: Prof. Zhang and Meng Wanzhou are expected to attend a dinner in Argentina, where the G20 summit is being held.
• Dec. 1, 2018: On her way there, Meng is arrested in transit by the Canadian government.
• Dec. 1, 2018: Prof. Zhang falls to his death from a building in the US, allegedly a suicide. Said to be suffering from depression, he was 55.
• Dec. 1, 2018: A nighttime fire breaks out at a factory of Holland’s ASML, the world’s leading manufacturer of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology. EUV is crucial to the production of the next generation of semi-conductors, which US and Chinese tech firms as well as Korea’s Samsung are competing to be first to bring to market. Leading Chinese semiconductor producer SMIC is known to have ordered EUV technology worth US$120 million from ASML, for scheduled delivery early in 2019.
After the fire, ASML announced that it expected delays in shipments of its products, notably early 2019.

If UMC walks away from the DRAM technology development program, it will be another setback for China’s ambitions to create a self-reliant semiconductor industry. The $5.6 billion Fujian Jinhua project in the southern Chinese city of Jinjiang was previously set to enter trial production by the end of 2018, which would mark the country’s first memory chip output. But construction was suspended because of the U.S. ban in November.

This is from a month ago. But it’s still quite relevant. One of the more plausible conspiracy theories.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. In order to the ‘Connect the Dots’ in a conspiracy theory, you first need to have identifiable conspirators. And so far, the only plausible pretext or any such ‘conspiracy’ is ‘delays in shipment’.
    No conspirators and a flimsy motive…hmmm…But still, who knows? 🙂

  2. reiner Tor says

    I have already tested it in a Hungarian conspiracy theory Facebook group. (Its members usually don’t believe in the conspiracies, only discuss them.)

    Someone mentioned MH370, which crashed (disappeared) full of Freescale Semiconductor engineers. (Okay, just as an example of retarded tinfoil hat conspiracy theories, but still.) Being a Black Belt Tinfoil Hat myself, I find it at least an interesting coincidence.

    Someone else asked if there was a credible evidence of the dinner invitation for the both of them. Because if the guy got a dinner invitation for the evening of his suicide, that’s an interesting tidbit itself.

    Another point about the family announcement mentioning his alleged depression. Apparently they are denying that he had been under investigation for his role in the technology transfer to China. It’s possible that it was, indeed, a suicide, but not because of depression, but because he was just about to be arrested himself.

  3. This seems pretty irrefutable. No way this can all be coincidence.

    My question is how the Chinese view these events? What does the Chinese government think, what does the Chinese elite think, what does the common man on the street think?

    Do they see this as a conspiracy theory? Or has it crossed over into mainstream thought?

  4. Pablo Escobar blew up a plane with 107 people on it in order to kill one person who wasn’t even on the plane. Not that I’m saying I believe in a conspiracy here, just that people can be ruthless.

  5. Problem with this is, government projects at this scale will never be hinged on just one man, so you can`t stop things with one death either, however suspicious.

    Neither is ASML the sole provider of EUV foundry equipment.

  6. The point is not to stop them entirely, but to delay and disrupt their ambitious programs.

    The infamous Stuxnet cyberweapon did not destroy more than a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, but that does not mean it was not a real success for Israel/America’s campaign against the Iranian nuclear program.

  7. Neither is ASML the sole provider of EUV foundry equipment.

    According to Nikkei

    “ASML is the exclusive provider globally for such advanced equipment.”

    ASML’s customers include TSMC, Samsung, Intel, etc. The delivery to the Chinese SMIC in 2019 most probably will be delayed. Meanwhile Intel still has problems with their HPC grade 14 nm technology for processors, let alone moving to the 7 nm technology, or even to the 10 nm technology. Intel competitor AMD relies on TSMC for their 7 nm tech EPYC 2 which the Chinese might license to produce locally, the Chinese already producing the licensed 14 nm EPYC 1 locally. Qualcomm relies on TSMC and the disputes between Apple and Qualcomm means that Apple might not have access to the 7 nm processors which their rival SAMSUNG is able to produce inhouse and Huawei can source their processors from Qualcomm or SAMSUNG. Both TSMC and SAMSUN already have earlier delivery of the ASML equipment, the fire at ASML might have provided both companies technical advantages. The leadership positions of Intel and Apple might be hanging on threads 7nm wide. Desperate measures are needed in desperate times.

  8. reiner Tor says

    It’d be nice to have some evidence for the scientist being invited to dinner in Argentina.

  9. reiner Tor says

    There are some signs which make these conspiracy theories (both the scientist suicide and the MH370) at least somewhat believable. They are, of course, far from proven, and so shouldn’t be treated as facts, but we need to approach them with an open mind.


    Shoucheng Zhang (Chinese: 张首晟; February 15, 1963 – December 1, 2018) was a Chinese-American physicist who was the JG Jackson and CJ Wood professor of physics at Stanford University. He was a condensed matter theorist known for his work on topological insulators, the quantum Hall effect, the quantum spin Hall effect, spintronics, and high temperature superconductivity. According to the National Academy of Science:

    “He discovered a new state of matter called topological insulator in which electrons can conduct along the edge without dissipation, enabling a new generation of electronic devices with much lower power consumption. For this ground breaking work he received numerous international awards, including the Buckley Prize, the Dirac Medal and Prize, the Europhysics Prize, the Physics Frontiers Prize and the Benjamin Franklin Medal.”

    Damn that was that guy? Goddammit, there was work to do, Zhang.

    Still, I judge that spintronics and applications of topological insulator (which may well include Quantum Computers) are all in the Far Future (like, 10+ years before anything starts sampling, 20 years before there is anything that can be mass produced) and the work of making these things practical does not hinge on a single physicist but on an large count of engineers, favorable economic outlooks and big wads of investment money.

    It makes no sense to kill a scientist because he has discovered something in the past. It only makes sense in Hollywood scenarios. (Would you kill Turing because he wrote something on the Entscheidungsproblem? Sure, says Hollywood!)

    As for any link to EUV litography, the market doesn’t look so hot:

    In a major shift in strategy, GlobalFoundries [an American semiconductor foundry headquartered in Santa Clara, California, United States] is halting its development of next-generation chipmaking processes. It had planned to move to the so-called 7-nm node, then begin to use extreme-ultraviolet lithography (EUV) to make that process cheaper. From there, it planned to develop even more advanced lithography that would allow for 5- and 3-nanometer nodes. Despite having installed at least one EUV machine at its Fab 8 facility in Malta, N.Y., all those plans are now on indefinite hold, the company announced Monday.

    The move leaves only three companies reaching for the highest rungs of the Moore’s Law ladder: Intel, Samsung, and TSMC.

    Also, DRAM is not so hot right now – and China owns it anyway:

    What will the semiconductor industry look like in 2024?

    That’s the question Pete Rodriguez, CEO of semiconductor startup incubator Silicon Catalyst, asked a panel—and a roomful—of industry veterans earlier this month. And few were shy about predicting dramatic and, for some companies, potentially catastrophic changes.

    Their first warning went to the companies currently cranking out semiconductor memories, feeding the seemingly insatiable demand for solid-state storage. China has already been working hard to build DRAM factories, they indicated, and a trade war with the United States will likely push that effort into a higher gear.

    Said Cliff Hirsch, publisher of Semiconductor Times: “I think the real question is what do Micron, Hynix, Samsung, Toshiba, and Western Digital do when their fabs are sitting idle because China has taken over the memory business.”

    “Years ago, we [in the U.S.] were building DRAMs,” said Jim Hogan, managing partner of Vista Ventures, “and we got killed by the Japanese. Then the Koreans came in.

    “It’s not going to happen immediately, but if you are the Chinese government, and you put all this money into DRAM, you aren’t going to buy DRAM from anybody else,” said Hogan. “That won’t be good for Koreans or Micron or anybody.” He predicts that “this is going to have a huge political impact.”

    “Is there a value proposition in cranking out DRAM?” asked Hirsch. “Sure, Micron is getting 60 percent margins today, which is unbelievable, but what about in a few years when they are getting 10 percent margins? Maybe it’s time to think of them as the textile industry of the future, and they should be going offshore.”

    And also:

    The three DRAM suppliers are scaling back production growth as memory demand falters with no sign of recovery.

    The DRAMeXchange research outfit has said annual DRAM capital expenditure (CAPEX) growth has gone negative for 2019 as Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron respond to weak seasonal demand in the first quarter and beyond.

    DRAM prices had risen for nine consecutive quarters until the last 2018 quarter, when they fell 10 per cent compared to the third quarter.

    The demand outlook for PCs, servers, smartphones, and other end-consumer products is weak and the threat of a China-US trade war is not helping things. DRAMeXchange expects first quarter DRAM prices to show a 15 per cent fall, and see 10 per cent in the next, and then 5 per cent in both the third and fourth quarters, unless something positive happens, like China and the USA becoming best buddies.

  11. Anatoly, I expect better posts from you. Journalism that focus on coincidences that happen around an event, and never connect anything are deeply unsatisfying, at least, to me. Its a big world, and in a big world any number interesting events happen can and do happen in time or space proximity every day. So, just saying, I feel you let your standards drop here.
    To add some connections for you. Here are some non expert connections that I believe are close to correct.
    – My understanding is that Dr. Zhang was an elementry particle physicist and a theorist. That’s a long way from being an applied semi conductor physicist. In my experience with semi conductor fabrication there was little use for particle physics. There is little likelihood that current, particle physics is going to revolutionize current semiconductor fabrication technolgy any time soon.
    – Mrs Mengs arrest was hardly a shock arrest. My understanding is a warrent for her arrest was issued in NYC last year August. She was just very very foolish to be traveling as she was. The US security state monitors airline travel. She was surely flagged shortly after making her plane reservation. And as one would fully expect, she was arrested upon disembarking from her plane.
    – There was no fire at an ASML plant. The fire was at one their suppliers. In any event, there are very few countries that sell the semiconductor equipment, (Europe, USA, Japan) with which to build out a fabrication facility. All are allies and if they decide that China is a threat of some kind they can, one or as a group, legislate restrictions on what kind of fabrication technology is exported. That done China will never have a semiconductor industry, ever. The Chinese cant build everything they need from scratch. It would take them 20 years. The point is, there is no need for fires to stop shipments of semiconductor fabrication equipment.
    – I dont find the various meetings between this Chinese person and that Chinese person very interesting. China is a very big country, but the technical community at high levels is very small. There are a small number of elite universities which produce the technical and political elite. They all know each other or have a friend who is very close to whoever. Connection are also important in the society, cultivated and maintained.

  12. The fire was at one their suppliers.
    “Just two days after abandoning plans for building a U.S. headquarters and manufacturing plant in Weymouth’s Union Point, Dutch robotics company Prodrive Technologies lost part of its plant in the Netherlands to a massive fire.”

  13. Bukephalos says

    – There was no fire at an ASML plant. The fire was at one their suppliers. In any event, there are very few countries that sell the semiconductor equipment, (Europe, USA, Japan) with which to build out a fabrication facility. All are allies and if they decide that China is a threat of some kind they can, one or as a group, legislate restrictions on what kind of fabrication technology is exported. That done China will never have a semiconductor industry, ever. The Chinese cant build everything they need from scratch. It would take them 20 years. The point is, there is no need for fires to stop shipments of semiconductor fabrication equipment.

    if they can’t get the technology transfers then it seems clear to me they’ll resort to industrial espionage
    meanwhile there has been much talk about how the US might kill Huawei by forbidding the import of key semiconductors- I suppose that the Chinese would respond to this by cranking up the trade war on their end. But can they “kill” any industry in a similar way? They can surely do damage but even their rare earths are replaceable. Nothing so thorough and terminal

  14. ASML just got out of long lawsuit with Nicon and Zeiss, effectively finishing it by dividing litography equipment market among them. They may be the biggest producer, but they are far from the only one.

  15. It makes no sense to kill a scientist because he has discovered something in the past.

    He was not just a scientist. He was a chairman of DHVC (Digital Horizon Capital).

    DHVC (Digital Horizon Capital) is a California-based venture capital fund investing primarily in early-stage technology companies. (Finance, Financial Services, Venture Capital).

    Danhua Capital is a venture capital fund that invests primarily in early stage and growth stage companies with disruptive technologies or innovative business models, big market opportunities and strong management team.

    Our fund focuses on innovations in high-tech space, including mobile Internet, big data, cloud computing, wearable computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, smart devices, gaming and entertainment, medical devices and other disruptive technologies. We invest in companies from early stage to growth stage, and we occasionally participate in later rounds of financing for extraordinary companies.

    We have a professional investment team with exceptional academic, industry and investment background. Our founding partners have been working together for over 10 years. They bring together a unique combination of solid experience in investment and entrepreneurship, extensive networks in both Silicon Valley and China, and in-depth knowledge in cutting-edge technologies rooted from their research achievements.

    Backed by enormous support from top-notch institutional investors, we aim to provide startup companies with a wide range of resources from both domestic and overseas markets that will unleash their potential for greater success on a global scale.

    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.

    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.

  16. A lot of usual hot anglo air. Even when Texas Semi was blocked form selling russians new transistors for radar amplification cascades, it didn`t stop KRET.

    And industrial espionage never ever stops.

  17. reiner Tor says

    It makes no sense to kill a scientist because he has discovered something in the past.

    He might have been working on something in the present.

    But more likely, he could have been killed for his activities as a venture capitalist. He was active in the ongoing technology transfer to China.

  18. reiner Tor says

    All are allies and if they decide that China is a threat of some kind they can, one or as a group, legislate restrictions on what kind of fabrication technology is exported. (…) The point is, there is no need for fires to stop shipments of semiconductor fabrication equipment.

    Legislation takes time and might be difficult to implement.

  19. With all this hostility going on between the USA and China, the WTF? question I would like to have answered –

    Is why the Chinese do not act upon what Ron Unz and I have both published about, the fact that the USA’s biggest political kingmaker, 20th richest person in the world, Israeli-American Sheldon Adelson, is still allowed to earn more billions in his gambling casinos in Macao, China

    Adelson is the key USA funder of Israel-first and anti-Iran obsessions … he is thus quite responsible for Ms Meng’s arrest, really, and as Ron Unz says, Adelson could end that game with a phone call to his Senator etc friends

    Yet China’s Xi Jinping does not lay a glove on Adelson … Why?

    However it does seem there is a long history of Jewish involvement in China’s communist leadership going back to the Mao days, with European Jews even becoming members of China’s ruling politburo … Lots of Mossad-tied Chabad Jewish religious centres in China now too, tying in directly to Jared Kushner … makes ya think

  20. I don’t like conspiracy theories, nor simple solutions to complex problems, but the Macao casinos seem to be an interesting case of Chinese inaction. They could at least start some food safety investigations in those casinos, just to remind Sheldon on which superpower’s territory they happen to be.

  21. The Alarmist says

    “They are, of course, far from proven, and so shouldn’t be treated as facts….”

    That’s why it’s called Plausible Deniability.

  22. I think plausible deniability is more referring to when a government is doing something, and everyone clearly knows it’s doing it, but they put enough effort into hiding it that those who want to pretend they didn’t notice can act as if they didn’t notice it. It’s a subtle game of diplomacy, not really about keeping something a secret, which is often near impossible.

  23. Another German Reader says

    Huawei is now closing in on Samsung – the leading smartphone-maker.

    (Apple is a no-fab company and they live off the premium-segment.)

    Huawei will most likely overtake Samsung in 2020. This is not good for Vietnam, where Samsung makes up 20% of the exports. This gives the Chinese government an additional pressure-tool in the SCS dispute. VN is the most vocal opponent & the only country, whose military can put up a fight in South-East Asia.

    It’s also not good for Worst Korea, where Samsung is one of the big chaboel – responsible for 15% of the GDP and 20% of stock-market valuations.)

    Huawei is now outspends Nokia Networks and Ericsson in R&D. It is the market-leader in 5G-equipment-solutions and many markets like Mexico already lock-down, thanks to an unmatched price-performance-equation.

    In addition there is ZTE, which comptetes in the same sagments. But unlike Huawei, which has reached the edge-of-development, ZTE was still very dependent crucial US tech. They got their slapdown already.

    Here in Germany one expert stated if Nokia & Ericsson lose even more market-share, they might not even have the big bucks to R&D the advanced 5G and future technologies.

    This could lead to a Microsoft Windows-like situation.

    The US government just wakes up from the reality, just like back then when US companies became market-leader and globally dominant due the large home-market & Euro-market.

    The real fight will be behind doors by Western/India/JP/SK/VN to put pressure on their national telcoms to use Nokia/Ericsson.

    This is just the first battle of many battles.

  24. But unlike Huawei, which has reached the edge-of-development, ZTE was still very dependent crucial US tech. They got their slapdown already.

    Huawei is also quite dependent on American suppliers. Yet.

    Huawei has for the first time released a list of its key suppliers, showing that the Chinese telecommunications giant remains dependent on technology and components from American and Japanese firms.

    Huawei held its annual core supplier convention in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on November 7, with 700 representatives from the company’s 150 global suppliers attending the event.

    A total of 92 suppliers were awarded at the convention, including 33 US companies, 22 Chinese companies, 11 Japanese companies, 10 Taiwanese companies and 16 companies from countries and regions including Germany, South Korea and Hong Kong, according to reports on Chinese news websites.

    American suppliers to Huawei include Qualcomm, Intel and Microsoft, among others, while Sony and Fujitsu are among Japanese companies and TSMC, Hon Hai and MediaTek among Taiwanese manufacturers on the list. Meanwhile, suppliers based in the Chinese mainland include BOE, Shenzhen Tianma and Lixun Precision, and others.

    Intel and Dutch semiconductor maker NXP were awarded by Huawei in the top category for the tenth consecutive year.

  25. Godfree Roberts says

    ‘Xi Jinping does not lay a glove on Adelson … Why?’

    He doesn’t need to. The trade war is mostly hot air and, even if all the threats were carried out, would only marginally impact China’s GDP, which is 40% bigger growing 3x faster and has grown similarly for 70 years though half that time it was under massive US embargoes.

    Xi will play the Adelson chip when Israel, China’s technology conduit, stops creating value for China:

    1993: Israel accused of selling US secrets to China
    2004: Israel secretly sells American nuclear weapons to China
    2013: Israel Passes U.S. Military Technology to China
    2013: U.S. Furious With Israel After Sale of Advanced Military Technology to China
    2017: Former CIA Phil Giraldi: “Israel Steals US Technology”
    –Five Eyes Against Huawei:

  26. Godfree Roberts says

    Huawei is the only company in the world that can produce all the elements of a 5G network and assemble them together at scale and cost. It is also the largest owner of 5G intellectual property and the manufacturer of the most powerful 5G phone chips, modems and base station server chips.

    Alternatives require experts to integrate their disparate products before deploying them on a national scale: a fraught process that is inherently slow and expensive.

    If America does not adopt Huawei’s system we will take twice as long and pay twice as much to implement a system that is half as good.

    To quote Deloitte’s 5G report, “China may be creating a 5G tsunami, making it near impossible to catch up…”

    Is that really what we want?

  27. Thanks.

    Very succinct explanation of why Ron Unz’s suggestion that China go after Adelson isn’t on the cards.

  28. Hmmm… First a fire. Delay in EUV equipment delivery for TSMC. Now off-spec chemical supply. More delays.

    Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said on Monday a defective chemical had damaged production at a factory that supplies customers including chip developers Huawei Technologies, Nvidia and MediaTek. Quality problems involving a photoresist chemical — crucial in chip manufacturing — caused the disruption, industry sources told the Nikkei Asian Review. Key suppliers of this chemical include Shin-Etsu Chemical and JSR of Japan as well as American company Dow Chemical, but it remains unclear which provider delivered the problematic materials. Among the customers that the plant supplies is HiSilicon Technologies, the chipmaking arm of China’s Huawei.

    Last August, the Taiwanese manufacturer encountered its first computer virus outbreak, when a variation of the WannaCry malware disrupted production for nearly three days — including at the company’s most advanced iPhone chipmaking site — causing a revenue loss of about 1%, or roughly 2.6 billion New Taiwan dollars ($84.7 million).

    TSMC said it failed to detect the virus hidden in a new piece of equipment before linking the tool to the entire production network.

    Computer virus in new equipement?? Hmmmm…

  29. Mitchell Porter says

    Zhang’s death and Meng’s detention seem like they are meant to intimidate Chinese scientists and executives so that they stay out of the United States. And if I had to guess why Zhang could be a risk to American strategic primacy, I would suggest the role of Majorana fermions in quantum computing.