Huawei CFO Extradition Case Complicated by Chinese—and Perhaps Canadian—Interests

December 17, 2018 Updated: December 18, 2018
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News Analysis

The next step in the case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest is the extradition process. The United States wants Meng to face trial in U.S. federal court. But will the Canadian authorities give her up?

Being a nation with rule of law, Canada will, of course, have to decide whether to extradite Meng, based on legal precedent.

But there are signs that Meng’s high-profile case has drawn special attention—from both the Chinese and Canadian side.

Citing anonymous sources in Canadian law enforcement and government, Canadian news outlet Global News noted in a Dec. 14 report that China’s chief intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), is believed to be covertly monitoring Meng, who serves as Huawei’s chief financial officer. A former analyst with Canada’s intelligence agency CSIS is also quoted as saying that, given China’s extensive spy network, it’s likely that MSS agents in Vancouver are monitoring Meng’s case right now.

“Huawei is not a normal company in any sense,” Stephanie Carvin, the former analyst, told Global News. “It is wrapped up in Chinese nationality and represents [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping’s interests as a national champion company.”

She is right. Huawei, a telecommunications giant, is funded by the Chinese regime and is contracted to develop and provide technology to local Chinese governments and military. The company sits at the forefront of Beijing’s bid to turn China into the leader for cutting-edge 5G wireless infrastructure, and Meng is a valuable asset to the Chinese regime. State media have made defending her reputation an act of patriotic duty.

The MSS is also a powerful agency that has been known to conduct espionage and recruitment for the Chinese regime’s interests from France to the United States.

The report further claims that staff of the British Columbia government—the province where Meng was arrested and detained, and where she owns multiple properties—have given special attention to her case upon her arrest. The chief of staff reportedly made a phone call to the B.C. solicitor general’s office (a provincial judicial department) soon after her detention, “expressing concern that they could not hold Meng in a Canada Border Services facility…[and] needs to make sure she is extended courtesies,” the report said.

In response to the Global News’ report, the spokesperson for the solicitor general’s office said: “The premier’s communications director contacted the solicitor general’s office to simply gain clarity on what was being reported on this investigation. This is standard procedure. This was a request for information only—there was no request for any change in circumstances.”

How important this case is to the Chinese regime is no less represented by how its state-run media have covered her case: officially warning Canada of “grave consequences”; writing high-octane editorials slamming the Canadian and U.S. governments while calling for boycotts of Canadian brands; sharing Meng’s social-media post, written the night she was released on roughly $5 million cash bail on Dec. 11.

She had posted: “I am proud of Huawei. I am proud of the motherland!”

At the same time, the case is a major headache for Canada, which is caught in the middle. China has already detained two Canadian citizens who were working inside China in retaliation for Meng’s arrest. This has led to a souring of relations between China and Canada at a time when the latter seeks to secure a free-trade deal with China.

Canadian authorities have already canceled a trade mission and the country’s tourism minister decided to postpone a scheduled trip to China.

Once a court has ruled that Meng needs to be extradited, the ultimate decision whether to proceed or not will be up to Canada’s justice minister.

But Global News’ report of British Columbia authorities’ inquiries begs the question of whether there are forces among Canadian authorities who may have a special interest in Meng’s case.

In June 2010, then-director of CSIS, Richard Fadden, had bluntly told national broadcaster CBC that a number of local government officials—including those serving in British Columbia—are under the influence of foreign regimes. He added that Beijing is the most aggressive among the foreign regimes in the quest for exerting influence in Canada.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said cutting corners when it comes to Meng’s case is not an option.

“I think people need to be very careful when they start to suggest that corners be cut when it comes to the rule of law and when it comes to international treaty obligations,” Freeland said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Complicating the matter is the ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and China.

U.S. and Chinese officials have expressed that the arrest won’t affect ongoing talks. But in an interview with Reuters last week, U.S. President Donald Trump drew a connection between the Huawei case and his administration’s trade row with China, saying he would be willing to intervene if it helped resolve the dispute or would serve U.S. national-security interests.

“Whatever’s good for this country, I would do,” Trump said.

Correction: The article “Huawei CFO Extradition Case Complicated by Chinese and Canadian Interests,” published on Dec. 18, misstated what then-director of CSIS, Richard Fadden, said in a June 2010 interview with CBC. Fadden said that a number of local government officials, including those in British Columbia, are under the influence of foreign regimes. He had also stated that Beijing is the most aggressive among the foreign regimes in the quest for exerting influence in Canada. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

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