A Canadian court ruled on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, that Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s (Huawei) Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou (48) was denied her appeal to revoke extradition to the United States (US). The ruling of the Canada court, which could further harm relations between Ottawa and Beijing, attracted immediate strong reaction from China’s embassy in Canada accusing Canada was “accomplice to United States efforts to bring down Huawei and Chinese high-tech companies.”
Meng’s Arrest for Bank Fraud Charges
Meng, a Chinese citizen and daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder Ren Zheng, was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant issued by US authorities related to bank fraud charges. The US authorities accused the CFO of misleading HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with a company operating in Iran, putting HSBC at risk of fines and penalties for involvement in lifting Washington sanctions on Tehran.
Meng’s lawyers argued the case should be dismissed on the ground that Canada did not have sanctions against Iran. Nonetheless, the Associate Chief Justice of the British Columbia’s Superior Court, Heather Holmes disagreed and ruled by saying that it met the legal criteria of double criminality. Holmes asserted, “Ms. Meng’s approach … would seriously limit Canada’s ability to fulfill its international obligations in the extradition context for fraud and other economic crimes.”
China’s tech giant, Huawei expressed its discontent over the Canadian court ruling and insisted that Canada’s judicial system would ultimately prove her innocence. While the Chinese embassy in Ottawa expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the decision on Meng, the US Department of Justice thanked Canada for its continued assistance. The court’s ruling has shattered hopes for an end to her 18-month house arrest in Vancouver.
A Scapegoat between US-China Tension
Following the ruling, the court stated that the extradition hearing process for the second phase would start from June, however, many analysts were doubtful whether Canadian officials would follow the law while arresting Meng. As experts projected that the final judgment for the case is expected to arrive in the last week of September or at least by the first week of October.
Reid Weingarten, a US lawyer for Meng, said she should “not be a pawn or a hostage” in the China-US relationship, which has been seen deteriorating steadily amid disputes over trade and the future of Hong Kong. Weingarten added, “Today’s ruling in Canada is only the opening salvo in a very long process … we are confident that ultimately justice will be done.”
Shortly after the ruling, Meng arrived at the courthouse for an in-person briefing and left without talking to the media except one statement claiming that she was innocent. On the day shortly after Meng’s arrest in December 2018, Beijing detained two Canadians on national security charges and halted imports of canola seed.
The Global Times, published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, said the ruling “will make Canada a pathetic clown and a scapegoat in the fight between China and the US.”
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