China welcomes release of Meng Wanzhou, quiet on release of two Canadian ‘spies’
China on Saturday welcomed the release of Huawei chief financial officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou from home detention in Canada but remained all but silent on the release of two Canadians from Chinese jails in what appeared to be a surprise quid pro quo settlement between the two countries.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian wrote “welcome back” on his Twitter-like Weibo page while quoting a line from the official news agency, Xinhua, on Meng Wanzhou’s release.
“Through unremitting efforts of the Chinese government, Meng Wanzhou has already left Canada on a charter flight organised by the Chinese government,” the Xinhua news agency reported.
“Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese business executive who had been arbitrarily detained for more than 1,000 days in Canada, shared her thoughts and expressed her appreciation on a Chinese-government charter flight bringing her home,” Xinhua said.
Another senior Chinese diplomat Liu Xiaoming tweeted, “Welcome home. Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
Chinese state media turned Meng Wanzhou’s release into a victory for China and the ruling Communist Party of China, publishing quotes from Meng during her return flight in which she repeatedly thanked the party.
“It is pitch dark outside. I am in the sky over the Arctic, heading home,” Meng Wanzhou said in comments widely circulating in Chinese social media on Saturday. “I will soon return to the embrace of the motherland.”
“Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, my home country is becoming stronger and more prosperous day by day. Without a strong motherland, I won’t have my freedom today,” she said.
Meng Wanzhou described the motherland, the party and the government as the shining light that has lit up “the darkest moments” of her life and led her on the long journey home.
Meng Wanzhou also expressed gratitude to her family, colleagues and every well-wisher. “Despite all twists and turns, this returning journey is the sweetest journey home,” she said, according to Xinhua.
In a commentary on the release, national broadcaster CGTN said: “The detention of Meng Wanzhou should never have happened - and a similar situation should never happen again. International arrest warrants should be used for criminals, not for pawns in the political game of thrones. Business or even international ties of any sort between nations cannot function if business executives are targets for bogus charges to help pursue political goals.”
A report in the Global Times said the cases of Meng Wanzhou and the two arrested Canadians were different - and hence the simultaneous release should not be interpreted as “hostage diplomacy”.
The tabloid wrote the story quoting Canadian media. “On the same day Meng flew back home, Canadian media outlets reported that two Canadians - Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor - left China on a plane back to Canada,” the Global Times report said.
“Kovrig was accused of using an ordinary passport and business visa to enter China to steal sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017, while Spavor was accused of being a key source of intelligence for Kovrig,” state media had reported in August.