New York / Vancouver (dpa) – With the end of the long-standing dispute over Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, China’s relations with the United States and Canada are a poorer point of contention.
On Friday, Canada let the top manager of the Chinese group, appointed in Vancouver at the end of 2018, leave the country after accepting an agreement with the American authorities. China immediately repatriated two Canadian businessmen who had been detained for almost as long.
Huawei chief financial officer and daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei was arrested in December 2018 at the instigation of U.S. authorities in Vancouver, Canada. The US government has accused the top official of the network provider and smartphone provider, among other things, of bank fraud. Meng has always protested his innocence and accused the authorities of violating his rights during the arrest. In Beijing, the process was seen as part of the trade war between then-US President Donald Trump and China. As part of their deal with the US Department of Justice, Meng has now indirectly admitted to misinforming a bank of Huawei’s dealings in Iran.
According to the agreement, proceedings against Meng will initially be suspended until December 1, 2022, and then halted if she adheres to the terms of the agreement. Among other things, Meng pledged not to contradict the presentation of individual facts by the US side. However, she stuck with her assertion of innocence until the end. The document also contains a detailed description of information about the transactions of a Huawei subsidiary in Iran that Meng had withheld from a bank.
Two Canadians Arrested
The Meng affair quickly took on political dimensions on a larger scale. Shortly after the director’s arrest, Chinese authorities arrested two Canadian businessmen. In August this year, one of them was finally convicted of espionage and obtaining state secrets and sentenced to 11 years in prison. China has reaped protests from abroad and the accusation of “hostage diplomacy”. The second Canadian also had to answer in court in China for allegations of espionage. Ultimately, however, there was no judgment against the former diplomat.
Instead, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was able to announce Saturday night after the deal in the Causa Meng that his two compatriots were on a plane on their way home. By this time, Meng had already left Canada – on a plane chartered by the Chinese government, as reported by Chinese state television channel CCTV.
Tensions between China and Canada
Relations between the governments of Beijing and Ottawa have been strained in all areas since Meng’s arrest. For example, China has imposed restrictions on the importation of rapeseed oil and other export products from Canada. At least three suspected Canadian drug traffickers have also been sentenced to death in the People’s Republic.
Specifically, US authorities accuse Meng of misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with tech firm Skycom in a presentation for UK bank HSBC in 2013, which put the bank at risk of violating US sanctions against Iran. With his approval of the deal, Meng cannot oppose it without risking a new trial. Previous talks about a deal with prosecutors had failed, according to US media, partly because Meng did not want to admit any wrongdoing.