With the end of the long-standing conflict over Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, China’s relationship with the USA and Canada is one point of controversy poorer. On Friday, Canada let the top manager of the Chinese group, who was appointed in Vancouver at the end of 2018, leave the country after she agreed to a deal with the US authorities. China immediately flown home two Canadian businessmen who had been held for almost as long.
Allegations indirectly admitted
The Huawei CFO and daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei was arrested in December 2018 at the instigation of the US authorities in Vancouver, Canada. The US government accused the top manager of the network supplier and smartphone provider, among other things, of bank fraud. Meng always protested her innocence and accused the authorities of violating her 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 agreement, Meng now indirectly admitted having misinformed a bank about Huawei deals in Iran, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.
According to the deal, the proceedings against Meng will initially be put on hold until December 1, 2022 and then discontinued if she adheres to the terms of the agreement. Among other things, Meng undertook not to contradict the presentation of individual facts by the US side. However, she stayed with her claim of innocence to the end. The document also contains a detailed description of the information on dealings by a Huawei subsidiary in Iran that Meng had withheld from a bank.
Canadian businessmen arrested
The Meng case had quickly assumed political dimensions on a larger scale. Shortly after the manager was arrested, Chinese authorities arrested two Canadian businessmen. In August of this year, one of them was finally found guilty of espionage and obtaining state secrets and sentenced to 11 years in prison. China reaped protests from abroad and the accusation of “hostage diplomacy”. The second Canadian also had to answer to court in China for espionage allegations. In the end, however, there was no judgment against the former diplomat.
Instead, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was able to announce after the agreement in the Meng case on Saturday night that his two compatriots were on their way home on a plane. At that time, Meng had already left Canada – with an airplane chartered by the Chinese government, as the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Relations between the Beijing and Ottawa governments have been strained across the board since Meng’s arrest. For example, China imposed import restrictions on rapeseed oil and other export goods from Canada. At least three alleged Canadian drug smugglers have also been sentenced to death in the People’s Republic.
Specifically, the US authorities accuse Meng of having misrepresented the relationship between Huawei and the technology company Skycom in a presentation for the British bank HSBC in 2013, which put the bank in danger of violating US sanctions against Iran. With her approval of the deal, Meng cannot object to this without risking a retrial. Earlier talks about an agreement with the prosecutors had failed, according to US media reports, among other things because Meng did not want to admit any wrongdoing.