Canada blames US for Huawei CFO arrest backlash that left 2 citizens in Chinese prisons and a 3rd on death row

  • Canada last month arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of the Chinese telcom giant Huawei, at the request of US authorities.
  • Beijing subsequently detained two Canadians and put another on death row.
  • Canada’s ambassador to the US, David MacNaughton, blamed Washington for the backlash in an interview with The Globe and Mail newspaper published Monday.
  • He said the US was “seeking to have the full force of American law brought against” Meng, “and yet we are the ones who are paying the price.”
  • The US also plans to formally extradite Meng from Canada, MacNaughton told the newspaper.

Canada has blamed the US for the diplomatic fallout from the arrest of the chief financial officer of the Chinese telcom giant Huawei, saying it is “paying the price” of Beijing’s anger.

Since Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO and the daughter of its founder, on December 1, two Canadians have been detained in China and a third had a prison sentence upgraded to the death penalty.

Meng is suspected of violating US sanctions by doing business with Iran and of misleading banks and investors about a second company that was selling to Iran.

Meng is out on bail in her multimillion-dollar home in Vancouver. She was forced to give up her passport and now wears a GPS monitor but is otherwise free to leave the house outside a curfew of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Meng's house in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she is living as her case is pending.

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Meng’s house in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she is living as her case is pending.
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Reuters

Shortly after Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians – Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman – who are now said to be in prison cells where the lights are on all day.

Earlier this month, Beijing also sentenced a Canadian named Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death. Schellenberg, 36, had initially been given a 15-year prison sentence after being convicted of international drug trafficking.

Experts have directly linked the three cases to the Huawei CFO’s arrest, with Canadian authorities describing the detentions and death sentence as “arbitrary.”

Read more: China sentenced a Canadian man to death in the latest escalation of the countries’ feud over Huawei

China sentenced a Canadian named Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, center, to death on charges of international drug trafficking on January 14.

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China sentenced a Canadian named Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, center, to death on charges of international drug trafficking on January 14.
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CCTV/Reuters TV via REUTERS

In a rare public rebuke, Canada’s ambassador to the US, David MacNaughton, told The Globe and Mail newspaper on Monday, “We don’t like that it is our citizens who are being punished.”

The Americans “are the ones seeking to have the full force of American law brought against” Meng, he said, “and yet we are the ones who are paying the price – our citizens are.”

MacNaughton has already “voiced Canadian anger and resentment” to the White House over the backlash from China, The Globe and Mail said.

Read more: China accuses Canada of ‘white supremacy’ over the detention of Huawei CFO

Meng's arrest has opened up a diplomatic feud between China and Canada.

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Meng’s arrest has opened up a diplomatic feud between China and Canada.
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REUTERS/Alexander Bibik

Washington takes the fight into its own hands

The US now plans to formally request Meng’s extradition from Canada to the US, MacNaughton told The Globe and Mail. He did not specify when the Americans would start the process.

A spokesman for the US Justice Department told Reuters: “We will comment through our filings.” Business Insider was unable to contact the department because of the US government shutdown.

Canada’s Department of Justice will decide whether to extradite Meng, who could appeal the decision.

Federal prosecutors in the US have also launched a criminal investigation into allegations that Huawei stole trade secrets from US companies, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Chinese President Xi Jinping. China's Foreign Ministry has vowed to retaliate for Meng's arrest.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping. China’s Foreign Ministry has vowed to retaliate for Meng’s arrest.
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Thomas Peter/Getty

China hits back while Huawei begs for a truce

China’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly called for Meng’s release and described the arrest as a “mistake.” On Tuesday, it threatened to retaliate against her extradition to the US.

A spokeswoman for the ministry, Hua Chunying, told reporters on Tuesday that “China will take action in response to measures taken by the US.”

“Everyone has to be held responsible for their own actions,” she added. “Both the US and Canada should be aware of the seriousness of the case and take steps to rectify the mistake.”

Huawei has taken a softer stance. Ren Zhengfei, its founder, broke years of public silence last week to plead for his daughter’s release. He also called US President Donald Trump a “great president” in an effort to alleviate his company’s tensions with the US.

Trump has alluded to using Meng’s arrest as a bargaining chip in the US’s trade war with China, saying in December, “I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

Read more: The reclusive founder of Huawei broke years of silence after his daughter’s arrest in Canada to say he misses her ‘very much’

A drawing of Meng during her bail hearing on December 7 in British Columbia's Supreme Court. Meng's father, Huawei's founder, broke years of public silence to beg for his daughter's release.

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A drawing of Meng during her bail hearing on December 7 in British Columbia’s Supreme Court. Meng’s father, Huawei’s founder, broke years of public silence to beg for his daughter’s release.
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Reuters/Jane Wolsak

A Huawei spokeswoman declined to comment when Business Insider asked how the company would respond to the extradition request and whether it was working with the Chinese government to formulate a response.

“Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including export control and sanction laws of the UN, US, and EU,” she told Business Insider in a statement, adding, “We have every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach a just conclusion.”