Huawei CFO Arrest: US Senate Committee Mulls Resolution to Commend Canada for Upholding Rule of Law

By Margaret Wollensak
Margaret Wollensak
Margaret Wollensak
April 2, 2019 Updated: April 2, 2019

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider a resolution on Wednesday to commend the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law and to express concern over the Chinese regime’s response over the extradition proceedings of a prominent Huawei Technologies executive.

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1, 2018, by Canadian authorities at the request of the United States.

Ottawa maintains that it is upholding the rule of law in following its extradition treaty with the United States. However, since Meng’s arrest, Canada has faced increasing diplomatic and trade tensions with the Chinese regime, which has repeatedly demanded that Meng be released.

Sponsored by Sen. James Rich (R-ID), the current Senate resolution title reads as follows: “A resolution commending the Government of Canada for upholding the rule of law and expressing concern over actions by the Government of the People’s Republic of China in response to a request from the United States Government to the Government of Canada for the extradition of a Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. executive.”

The resolution is currently cosponsored by senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Gardener (R-CO), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

First introduced in early March, the resolution came a month after Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, told the Associated Press that the United States was “deeply concerned” about China’s “unlawful” detention of two Canadians that occurred shortly after Meng’s arrest.

Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who now works for think tank Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, a Canadian entrepreneur who has worked extensively in North Korea, were detained by Beijing on national security grounds on Dec. 10. Their detentions are widely believed to be in retaliation for the Huawei executive’s arrest.

“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of these two Canadians since December 2018 and continues to call for their immediate release,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.

According to Global Affairs, Canadian consular officials have been able to visit Kovrig and Spavor five times each, most recently on March 25 and 26 respectively. Consular officials also continue to provide consular services to their families

Generally speaking, the main purpose of consular visits include: assessing the well-being of the Canadian citizen, clarifying the nature of the detention with local authorities and the Canadian, providing guidance on the legal process in the country, seeking access to medical attention if required, and providing a communication link between the Canadian and their loved ones.

Global Affairs said Canada continues to express its appreciation to those who have spoken in support of Kovrig and Spavor and the rule of law, including Australia, the European Union, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain, Denmark, and NATO.

Last month, China also revoked the registrations of two of Canada’s major canola producers and exporters, Richardson Inc. and Viterra Inc., while an industry group says Chinese importers no longer want Canadian canola. Canada exported 18 million tonnes of canola and canola products in 2018, valued at over $11 billion, and the Canola Council of Canada says canola seed exports to China were worth $2.7 billion last year.

Canadian Minister of Agriculture Marie Claude-Bibeau and Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr met agriculture industry leaders in Saskatoon last week to discuss Saskatchewan’s agriculture sector, including canola exports.

“The Government of Canada is deeply concerned about China’s notices of non-compliance and strengthened inspection measures on Canadian canola seed,” Claude-Bibeau said. “Canadian farmers can be assured that the Government of Canada stands firmly behind them and is working hard to secure unrestricted market access for Canada’s high-quality canola and to open new markets for our agricultural products.”

The government says regaining full market access for canola producers is a priority, and they are working to resolve the issue with China.

Huawei’s CFO Arrested in Canada

The United States has charged Huawei, the world’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer, and Meng with financial fraud in a 13-count indictment unsealed in New York in late January. U.S. officials accuse Huawei, Meng, and other employees of deceiving global financial institutions and the U.S. government regarding Huawei business activities related to Iran.

The indictment says Huawei employees lied about the company’s relationship with Skycom, a company that did business in Iran, saying the two were separate entities when in fact Huawei controlled Skycom. Based on these allegedly false statements, banks continued to process transactions for Huawei. One bank cleared more than $100 million worth of Skycom-related transactions between 2010-2014. However, U.S. laws and regulations generally prohibit banks from processing transactions related to Iran through the United States.

Meng allegedly personally made a presentation in August 2013 to an executive of one of Huawei’s major banking partners in which she repeatedly lied about the relationship between Huawei and Skycom. She herself has been charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.

Meng is currently out on bail in Vancouver while lawyers prepare for her next court hearing on May 8, when applications will be heard and the hearing date for her extradition is expected to be set. Experts say the extradition case could drag on for years before being resolved.

Margaret Wollensak