China summons US ambassador over Huawei arrest

China summoned the US ambassador on Sunday to protest the “extremely bad” arrest of telecom giant Huawei’s chief financial officer in Canada and demand that the United States drop its extradition request.

The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, who faces US fraud charges related to sanctions-breaking dealings with Iran, has infuriated Beijing, stoking tensions amid a trade war truce between China and the United States.

Meng — the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army — is in custody as she awaits a Canadian court’s decision on bail on Monday.

Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned US ambassador Terry Branstad one day after he called in Canadian envoy John McCallum to voice China’s displeasure.

“Le Yucheng pointed out that the US side has seriously violated the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, and the nature of the violation is extremely bad,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Chinese side firmly opposes this and strongly urges the United States to attach great importance to China’s solemn and just position,” it said.

China also urged the United States to “take immediate measures to correct wrong practices, and revoke the arrest warrant against the Chinese citizen.”

The statement warned that Beijing would make an unspecified “further response” in light of the US actions.

The US embassy spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lengthy extradition process

Meng was arrested in Vancouver while changing planes on December 1, the same day that US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in their trade battle and gave negotiators three months to find a compromise.

The world’s top two economies have exchanged steep tariffs on more than $300-billion in total two-way trade, locking them in a conflict that has begun to eat into profits.

Analysts say Meng could become a bargaining chip in the negotiations.

In a bail hearing that was adjourned on Friday, Canadian government lawyer John Gibb-Carsley asked for bail to be denied, saying Meng has been accused of “conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions.”

He said if convicted, she faces more than 30 years in prison.

Meng is specifically accused of lying to a US bank, identified by her lawyer as “Hong Kong Bank”, about the use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of sanctions.

The extradition process could take months, even years, if appeals are made in the case.

Canada has a long-standing extradition treaty with the United States, requiring it to cooperate with US Department of Justice requests to hand over suspects.

The offence for which extradition is being sought must also be a crime in Canada, and a Canadian court must decide if there is sufficient evidence to support the extradition.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended Canada’s arrest of Meng, saying politics played no part in the decision.

Huawei said Friday that it would “continue to follow the bail hearing”, expressing “every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach the right conclusion”.

© Agence France-Presse

Laurent Thomet
Laurent Thomet
AFP China deputy bureau chief.
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