China is demanding the immediate release of Huawei’s global chief financial officer, who was arrested in Canada and is facing extradition to the United States amid reports she violated US sanctions against Iran.
Canada has arrested Huawei’s global chief financial officer in Vancouver, where she is facing extradition to the United States on suspicion she violated US sanctions against Iran, Canadian officials and reports say.
- Canadian and US officials refuse to provide specifics of case
- China demands Meng Wanzhou’s immediate release
- Huawei says it’s unaware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng
Meng Wanzhou, who is one of the vice chairs on the Chinese technology company’s board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on December 1 when she was transferring flights.
Meng Wanzhou is one of the vice-chairs on Huawei’s board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei. (Supplied: Huawei.com)
A court hearing has been set for Friday, a Canadian Justice Department spokesman, Ian McLeod, said.
Mr McLeod said a publication ban had been imposed in the case and he could not provide any further details.
A US Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
China’s embassy in Canada said it resolutely opposed the arrest and made representations to Canada and the US, demanding her immediate release.
“The Canadian police, at the request of the United States, arrested a Chinese citizen who had not violated any US or Canadian law,” the embassy said in a short statement on its website.
“China has already made solemn representations to the United States and Canada, demanding they immediately correct their wrong behaviour and restore Ms Meng Wanzhou’s freedom.”
Ms Meng’s arrest could drive a wedge between China and the United States just days after President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping held a meeting in Argentina where they agreed to a 90-day truce to their trade war.
Huawei, one of the world’s largest makers of telecommunications network equipment, said it complies with all laws and rules where it operates, including export controls and sanctions of the United Nations, the US and European Union.
Huawei also said it had been provided little information of the charges against Ms Meng, adding it was, “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng”.
A crisis in relations
Though Mr Trump and Mr Xi agreed to take steps toward ending their trade war, a resolution is now in doubt.
David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said US and Canadian business executives could also face reprisals in China.
“That’s something we should be watching out for. It’s a possibility. China’s plays rough,” Mr Mulroney said.
“It’s a prominent member of their society and it’s a company that really embodies China’s quest for global recognition as a technology power.”
Mr Mulroney said Canada should be prepared for “sustained fury” from the Chinese and said it would be portrayed in China as Canada kowtowing to Mr Trump.
He also said the Iran allegations were very damaging to Huawei and said China would push back hard.
Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia, noted the arrest took place on the same day Mr Trump met with Mr Xi to discuss the trade war after the close of the G20 summit in Argentina.
“She was in transit though Vancouver.
“That means the intelligence agencies in Canada and the US were tracking her and planning to arrest her for some time,” he said.
“The Chinese will read this as a planned conspiracy to do damage.”
There is a chance Ms Meng’s arrest could end talks of a free trade agreement between Canada and China. (Reuters)
He predicted a crisis in relations between the three countries if she was extradited and said any talk of free trade agreement between Canada and China would be over.
US authorities have been probing Huawei since at least 2016 for allegedly shipping US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of US export and sanctions laws, sources said in April.
Amid escalating technology tensions, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at the time that China opposed any country imposing unilateral sanctions based on its own law.
“We hope the US will refrain from taking actions that could further undermine investor confidence in the US business environment and harm its domestic economy and normal, open, transparent and win-win international trade,” Ms Hua said in April.
That same month, Washington barred Huawei rival ZTE from exporting US technology in a separate case over exports to Iran and North Korea.