China pressures US, Canada ahead of Huawei hearing

Last Updated 10 December 2018, 09:03 IST

China raised the pressure on the United States and Canada as a bail hearing for a top Chinese technology executive was set to resume Monday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A headline in a Communist Party newspaper called Canada's treatment of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, "inhumane."

The Global Times editorial published in Monday's edition followed formal protests by the Chinese government to both Canada and the United States over the weekend.

Meng was detained on December 1 while changing planes in Vancouver. The US wants her extradited. It alleges Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to evade US trade curbs on Iran.

Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, summoning US Ambassador Terry Branstad on Sunday, called Meng's detention "extremely egregious."

He demanded the US vacate the arrest warrant, warning that Beijing will take further steps based on Washington's response, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

A day earlier, the Chinese government gave Canadian Ambassador John McCallum a warning of "grave consequences" if she is not released.

The Canadian province of British Columbia said in a statement Sunday it cancelled a trade mission to China because of Meng's detention. The announcement came amid fears China could detain Canadians in retaliation.

A Canadian prosecutor asked a court Friday to reject Meng's bail request.

The judge said he would think about proposed bail conditions over the weekend.

Meng's arrest threatens to add to US-China trade tensions at a time when the two sides are seeking to resolve a dispute over Beijing's technology and industrial planning. Both sides have sought to keep the issues separate, at least so far.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, speaking Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," downplayed the impact of the arrest.

"This is a criminal justice matter," he said. "It is totally separate from anything that I work on or anything that the trade policy people in the administration work on. ... We have a lot of very big, very important issues. We've got serious people working on them, and I don't think they'll be affected by this."

Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, was detained on the same day that President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed over dinner to a 90-day cease-fire in the trade dispute.

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies, but its products have become the target of US security concerns because of its ties to the Chinese government.

The US has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.

The hearing on whether to grant her release on bail was due to resume later Monday.

The US alleges that Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of US sanctions. It also says that Meng and Huawei misled American banks about its business dealings in Iran.

In a brief statement emailed to The Associated Press, Huawei said "We have every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach the right conclusion."

Canadian officials have declined to comment on Chinese threats of retaliation over the case, instead emphasizing the independence of Canada's judiciary along with the importance of Ottawa's relationship with Beijing.

While protesting what it calls Canada's violation of Meng's human rights, China's ruling Communist Party stands accused of mass incarcerations of its Muslim minority without due process, locking up people exercising their right to free speech and refusing to allow foreign citizens to leave the country in order to bring pressure on their relatives accused of financial crimes.

The party also takes the lead in prosecutions of those accused of corruption or other crimes in a highly opaque process, without supervision from the court system or independent bodies.

(Published 10 December 2018, 08:52 IST)

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