China warns Canada to free Huawei suspect
China yesterday warned Canada that there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Huawei's chief financial officer, calling the case "extremely nasty".
Meng Wanzhou, the tech giant's global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on December 1 and faces extradition to the US, which alleges that she covered up her company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite US sanctions. Meng is the daughter of the founder of Huawei.
If extradited to the US, she would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.
No decision was reached at the extradition hearing after nearly six hours of argument and counter-argument, and the hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.
In a short statement, China's foreign ministry said vice foreign minister Le Yucheng had issued the warning to release Meng to Canada's ambassador in Beijing, after summoning him to lodge a "strong protest".
Canada's arrest of Meng at the request of the US while she was changing plane in Vancouver 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."
Meng's arrest came on the same day that Donald Trump met with China's Xi Jinping in Argentina to look for ways to resolve an escalating trade war between the world's two largest economies. The news of her arrest caused chaos on stock markets over trade fears.
A Huawei spokesman said the company had "every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach the right conclusion". The company has said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and other regulations.