China may re­tal­i­ate for ar­rest

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Mike BLANCH­FIELD

OT­TAWA — Canada’s ar­rest of a Chi­nese telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­ec­u­tive in Van­cou­ver at the re­quest of the United States sparked wide­spread sur­prise, but in se­cu­rity and diplo­matic cir­cles it was pure deja vu.

Canada did a sim­i­lar favour for the Amer­i­cans in July 2014 when it ar­rested a Chi­nese busi­ness­man in British Columbia for hack­ing the data bases of U.S. de­fence con­trac­tors to steal mil­i­tary se­crets.

In that case, Su Bin – a Chi­nese na­tional who had per­ma­nent res­i­dency in Canada – was even­tu­ally ex­tra­dited to the U.S. where he pleaded guilty in 2016 to a crim­i­nal con­spir­acy, years in the mak­ing, to steal U.S. mil­i­tary se­crets. He was sen­tenced to 46 months in pri­son.

But it’s what hap­pened a month af­ter Su’s ini­tial ar­rest that now has some spooked: Cana­di­ans Ju­lia and Kevin Gar­ratt, who lived three decades in China op­er­at­ing a cof­fee shop and do­ing Chris­tian aid work, were ar­rested and ac­cused of spy­ing and steal­ing mil­i­tary se­crets.

Now, there are fears of what China may do next.

The Gar­ratts have since been re­leased af­ter a two-year or­deal, but in light of last Satur­day’s ar­rest of Huawei Tech­nolo­gies’ chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Meng Wanzhou, con­cern is ris­ing that other Cana­di­ans in China are at risk of be­ing ar­rested in re­tal­i­a­tion.

“China will be fu­ri­ous and look for means of pun­ish­ing us, in part as an ex­am­ple for oth­ers,” David Mul­roney, a for­mer Cana­dian am­bas­sador to China, said Thurs­day.

“That could in­clude tit-for-tat moves against Cana­di­ans, a mo­tive that many, my­self in­cluded, sus­pect to have been at the bot­tom of the 2014 ar­rest and im­pris­on­ment of Cana­di­ans Ju­lia and Kevin Gar­ratt.”

That view is shared by other in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity an­a­lysts af­ter Canada’s Jus­tice De­part­ment said the U.S. is seek­ing Meng’s ex­tra­di­tion. Canada is not pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails about the case be­cause of a court-or­dered pub­li­ca­tion ban on her pend­ing bail hear­ing, and Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said Thurs­day he’s not com­ment­ing on an in­de­pen­dent le­gal process.

“The Chi­nese are likely to play tit-for-tat on this one and we should be ready for it,” said Fen Hamp­son, the di­rec­tor of the global se­cu­rity pro­gram at the Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Gover­nance In­no­va­tion based in south­ern On­tario.

Stephanie Carvin, a for­mer Cana­dian se­cu­rity an­a­lyst who teaches at Car­leton Uni­ver­sity, said on Twit­ter: “In light of the #Huawei ar­rest, a re­minder that China takes in­no­cent Cana­di­ans hostage on a whim for its own pur­poses. Would not want to be a Cana­dian busi­ness leader in China right now.”

Chi­nese for­eign-min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang told re­porters Thurs­day that his gov­ern­ment wants Cana­dian of­fi­cials to re­veal their rea­son­ing. He said Meng’s le­gal rights must be en­sured, adding that nei­ther Cana­dian nor Amer­i­can of­fi­cials had so far re­sponded to China’s con­cerns.

China’s em­bassy in Ot­tawa has also branded Meng’s ar­rest as a se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights. But Trudeau said Thurs­day he hasn’t talked to any in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts about the af­fair, and he made clear he’s stay­ing out of it. He said his of­fice got “a few days’ no­tice that this was in the works” but he em­pha­sized the ac­tions of law en­force­ment of­fi­cials are in­de­pen­dent from pol­i­tics.

“We are a coun­try of an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary, and the ap­pro­pri­ate au­thor­i­ties took the de­ci­sions in this case without any po­lit­i­cal in­volve­ment or in­ter­fer­ence.”

Some say Canada’s firm stand against China could have an eco­nomic cost as it tries to deepen trade ties. Carvin spec­u­lated on Twit­ter that this could af­fect the sale of Cana­dian lob­sters, among other things.

Oth­ers say Canada needs to stand firm in the face of Chi­nese pres­sure. They say Bei­jing is try­ing to press Canada where it might sense vul­ner­a­bil­ity – Ot­tawa’s own strained re­la­tions with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in Wash­ing­ton over tar­iffs and trade.

“It’s the bully next door Trudeau and Cana­di­ans have the most to worry about, and if the choice is be­tween Bei­jing or Wash­ing­ton, Wash­ing­ton will al­ways trump Bei­jing,” said Hamp­son.

Mul­roney said the Meng case has brought Canada and China to an in­evitable reck­on­ing in their re­la­tion­ship.

“China has en­ter­tained hopes that they could split us away from the U.S. in the Trump era,” he said.

“This re­minds the Chi­nese, and our­selves, that we are part of an in­ter­na­tional or­der backed by the U.S.”

AP PHOTO

Peo­ple walk past an ad­ver­tise­ment for Huawei at a sub­way sta­tion in Hong Kong on Thurs­day. Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties said Wed­nes­day that they have ar­rested Huawei’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Meng Wanzhou for pos­si­ble ex­tra­di­tion to the United States.

MENG

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