Canada’s envoy to China decries Huawei arrest as U.S.-inspired

Jeannie Matthews
December 15, 2018

Kovrig, who was detained in Beijing, is the North East Asia senior adviser for the International Crisis Group, which researches peaceful solutions to global conflicts.

The arrests came days after Canada detained a top Chinese business executive sought by the United States on fraud charges.

She referred to Canada as a "rule of law country", and said she had spoken with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Meng's case earlier in the week.

The United States alleges that Meng was personally complicit in giving untrue assurances to U.S. financial institutions that Huawei was not involved in evading USA sanctions on Iran.

The United States has accused her of lying to bankers about the use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of sanctions.

Lu Kang, China's foreign ministry spokesman, called the detention of Meng "wrong practice", the BBC reported on Thursday.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the legal process should not be hijacked for political purposes, and Ms Meng's lawyers would have the option of raising Mr Trump's remarks if they chose to fight extradition. "We don't do trade".

China's foreign ministry said ICG was not registered in China and its employees would be "in violation" of the law if they engage in activities in the country.

"I'm anxious that if the situation gets worse, they might cancel their orders or have Chinese consumers boycott Canadian products - then our business will pay the price", she said.

"If Canada extradites Meng to the US, China's revenge will be far worse than detaining a Canadian", said Hu Xijin, speaking in English.

Canadian Foreign Ministry spokesman Guillaume Bérubé said in a statement that the authorities are working hard to ascertain Spavor's whereabouts and would continue to raise the issue with the Chinese government. "This action has aroused public anger in China". But Trump issued a reprieve, perhaps partly because USA tech companies, major suppliers to ZTE, would also have been scorched. The impetus is on Trudeau to "act very early on this" and send a high-level message to the Chinese president, he said, but did not specify what that message should be.

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Canadian officials are still pressing China for access to Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, who is also being detained. He spent more than 20 years working in the Korean Peninsula, and first visited North Korea in 2001, it said.

He earned recognition after helping facilitate visits by former Chicago Bulls player Rodman in 2013 and 2014.

Other photographs taken at the time showed Spavor laughing and shaking hands with Kim Jong Un, and in February, he was given a front-row seat to a military parade that reportedly was off-limits to foreign media.

Lu said Thursday Spavor is under investigation by China's state security bureau in Dandong.

He was arrested on 10 December.

"We have in general informed our personnel in Beijing and in our consulates to take extra precautions", an official said. It said his case had been raised directly with Chinese officials.

Ms Meng's husband Liu Xiaozong in 2009 bought the six-bedroom house where she must stay in Vancouver's Dunbar neighbourhood - a leafy quiet enclave of single-family homes a few blocks from an urban forest.

She said any remarks from the US could be used by Meng's lawyers at her extradition hearing.

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], has been accused by USA prosecutors of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating sanctions.

She is the also vice chairman of Huawei, the second-largest smartphone creator in the world and the daughter of the company's founder, Ren Zhengfei.

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