VANCOUVER – The first round of extradition hearings for a senior executive at Chinese technology giant Huawei began today in Vancouver Courtroom MA, a case that has angered Beijing, sparked diplomatic tensions between China and Canada and complicated high-stakes trade talks between China and China. And the United States.
The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s legendary founder and chief financial officer, in late 2018 at the request of the United States angered Beijing in such a way that it detained two Canadians for explicit retaliation.
Huawei represents China’s progress in becoming a technological power and has been a source of concern for US security for years. Beijing sees Meng’s case as an attempt to stem China’s rise.
“Our government is clear. We are a country of the rule of law and we respect the promise of our extradition treaty, “said Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Christiaan Freeland at a cabinet retreat in Manitoba. “This is what we have to do and what we will do.”
China’s foreign ministry on Monday accused the United States and Canada of violating Meng’s rights and called for his release.
“This is absolutely a serious political incident,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the ministry. He called on Canada to “take steps to correct the mistakes, release Mrs. Meng Wanzhou and return her safely as soon as possible.”
Washington has accused Huawei of using a Hong Kong-based shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions. It said Meng, 47, had defrauded HSBC Bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
Meng, who is out on bail and lives in one of the two Vancouver palaces owned by him, sat next to his lawyers in a black dress with white polka dots. Earlier, he waved to reporters as he approached the court.
Meng denied the allegations. His defense team says President Donald Trump’s remarks indicate the lawsuit against him is politically motivated.
“We have confidence in the Canadian judiciary, which will prove Mrs. Meng’s innocence,” Huawei said in a statement shortly after the trial began.
Meng was detained in Vancouver in December 2018 while he was changing flights – the same day Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for trade talks.
Prosecutors insisted Meng’s case was separate from the larger Sino-US trade dispute, but Trump cut short the message a few weeks after his arrest when he said he would consider intervening in the case if it helped forge a trade agreement with Beijing.
China and the United States reached a “Phase 1” trade deal last week, but most analysts say any meaningful solution to the main US grievance – that Beijing uses poaching tactics in its drive to replace America’s technological dominance – could require years of controversial negotiations. . Trump raised the possibility of using Huawei’s fortunes as a bargaining chip in trade talks, but the company was not mentioned in the deal announced Wednesday.
Huawei is the largest global supplier of network gear for cellphone and internet companies. Washington is pressuring other countries to limit the use of its technology, warning that they could expose themselves to surveillance and theft.
James Lewis of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said the United States wanted to send a message through Meng’s arrest. He said there was good evidence that Huawei had deliberately violated the ban.
“You are no longer invulnerable. This message has been sent to the Chinese executives,” Lewis said. “No one has blamed China. They steal technology, they break their WTO commitments and the old line is, ‘Oh, they’re a developing economy, who cares.’ When you’re the world’s second-largest economy, you can’t do that anymore. “
The initial stages of Meng’s extradition hearing will focus on whether Meng’s alleged crimes are criminal in both the United States and Canada. His lawyers argued in an AA motion on Friday that Meng’s case was really about US sanctions against Iran, not fraud. Canada does not have similar sanctions on Iran.
Menge’s lawyer, Richard Peck, told the court: “This extradition is a U.S. presence that seeks to enlist Canada to enforce the sanctions we have rejected.”
The second episode, scheduled for June, will consider defense allegations that the Canadian Border Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI violated his rights while collecting evidence before arresting him.
If appealed, the extradition case may take several years to settle. About 90 percent of those arrested in Canada for extradition requests from the United States surrendered to U.S. authorities between 2008 and 2018.
China has arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Coverig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spawer in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest. The two men have been denied access to a lawyer and family and are being held in a 24-hour light cell.
China has imposed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola oil seeds and meat. Last January, China executed a Canadian drug smuggler convicted of sudden retrial.
“It’s mafia-style pressure,” Lewis said.
Gilles reports from Toronto
Jim Morris and Rob Gillis, Associated Press