The Washington Post Sunday

China calls on Canada to free CFO of Huawei

- BY BEN BLANCHARD AND DAVID LJUNGGREN

beijing — China warned Canada on Saturday that there would be severe consequenc­es if it did not immediatel­y release Huawei Technologi­es’ chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who faces extraditio­n to the United States on accusation­s that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions.

Meng, the daughter of the founder of Huawei, was arrested at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1. If extradited to the United States, she would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutio­ns, a Canadian court heard on Friday, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge. No decision was reached at the extraditio­n hearing after nearly six hours of arguments and counterarg­uments, and the hearing was adjourned until Monday.

In a short statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said that Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng had issued the warning to release Meng to Canada’s ambassador in Beijing, summoning him to lodge a “strong protest.” Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Saturday there is “nothing to add beyond what the Minister said yesterday.”

Freeland told reporters on Friday that relationsh­ip with China is important and valued, and Canada’s ambassador in Beijing has assured China that consular access will be provided to Meng.

Meng’s arrest while she was changing planes was a serious breach of her lawful rights, Le said. The move “ignored the law, was unreasonab­le” and was in its very nature “extremely nasty,” he added. “China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediatel­y release the detained person, and earnestly protect their lawful, legitimate rights, otherwise Canada must accept full responsibi­lity for the serious consequenc­es caused.”

The statement did not elaborate.

“There will probably be a deep freeze with the Chinese in highlevel visits and exchanges,” David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, said Friday. “The ability to talk about free trade will be put in the ice box for a while. But we’re going to have to live with that.”

Meng’s arrest comes as the United States and China look for ways to resolve an escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The news roiled stock markets, although President Trump and his top economic advisers have played down its importance to trade talks.

“We are tracking the developmen­ts of this case and refer you to the filings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia,” said a U.S. State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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