Extradition of Huawei’s CFO to US may deter Canada-China relations
Ties between Canada and China could be headed towards further trouble as a judge in Vancouver cleared the way for continuing extradition proceedings against a senior executive of Huawei.
A plea by the lawyers representing Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the telecommunications company, said that she be freed since the charges that lead to her detention were not valid in Canada. However, a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver dismissed her plea.
Meng was arrested by Canadian authorities in December 2018, and proceedings to have her extradited to the United States are in progress. She faces charges of misleading a bank in an effort to sidestep American sanctions on the Iranian regime. Her legal team’s argument that these charges were void in Canada were rejected by associate chief justice Heather Holmes, who deemed that Canadian law with regards to fraud “looks beyond international boundaries.” In a 23-page judgment, she argued that if she were to accept the defence argument, it “would seriously limit Canada’s ability to fulfil its international obligations in the extradition context for fraud and other economic crimes.”
This judgment, paving the way as it does for the extradition process to continue, may well result in deepening of tensions between China and Canada particularly since there were expectations that Meng would be set free on Wednesday on the double criminality technicality. When she was first arrested, China soon took into custody two Canadians, including a former diplomat, on alleged spying charges. That action was largely seen as retaliation by Beijing for what was perceived an affront as Canada had detained a member of the Chinese power elite, since Meng is also the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei. The two Canadians remain in Chinese prisons more than 500 days after they were arrested.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa has already reacted to the court ruling by demanding that Canada “immediately release” Meng and “allow her to return safely to China, and not to go further down the wrong path.” In a statement, the Embassy accused the Canadian government of acting an as “accomplice” of Washington and described the case as a “grave political incident.”
Canada’s foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne also issued a statement pointing out the country’s judiciary “operates independently”. He added that Canada’s “top priority is and remains securing the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been arbitrarily detained for over 500 days. We will continue to advocate for their immediate release and seek clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty in China, including Robert Schellenberg.”