Chinese state media is urging Canadian officials to release a top technology executive facing possible extradition to the United States in scathing editorials warning of “revenge” and “unnecessary troubles” for Canada if it doesn’t comply.
In a lengthy commentary published Thursday on the website for China Radio International – the country’s state-run radio broadcaster – they called Meng Wanzhou’s release on $10-million bail in Vancouver earlier this week “a step in the right direction.”
Meng, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Ltd., was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice. She’s being accused of fraudulently using a shell company as cover for Huawei to do business with Iran – in violation of U.S. sanctions against the country.
In the China Radio International piece, titled “The world is watching Canada,” the broadcaster said Meng’s arrest has damaged Sino-Canadian ties.
“[It] will affect or even cost the country's efforts to expand its exports to China and to attract more Chinese tourists. This is the most direct harm the issue does to Canada,” the website said.
The Chinese broadcaster also accused Canada of enforcing the law on behalf of the U.S. – a point they described as “absurd” and “hard to understand.” It urged Canada to release Meng immediately in order to prevent “more harm” to the relationship.
“It is high time then for the Canadian side to size up the situation and take effective measures to avoid causing unnecessary troubles for its relationship with China. Canada does not have to set a trap for itself,” the column said.
Earlier this week, Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the Communist Party-run tabloid the Global Times, uploaded a video in which he warned that, “if Canada extradites Meng to the U.S., China’s revenge will be far worse than detaining a Canadian.”
In the past week, China has detained two Canadian citizens on suspicion of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security,” according to foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang.
The detainment of former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor has been widely interpreted as a retaliatory action by the Chinese government to put pressure on Canada.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period airing this Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the charges against Kovrig and Spavor are still unknown.
“We have engaged with the Chinese officials to determine what, exactly, conditions are they being detained under (and) why they are being detained,” he told host Evan Solomon.
Global Affairs Canada says it is aware of the location of both Kovrig and Spavor, but has not yet been granted access to visit them.
In another opinion piece written in the official Chinese daily newspaper The People’s Daily earlier this week, the paper used threatening language in its description of the potential consequences Canada faces if it doesn’t set Meng free.
“While China does not want to cause trouble, China is not afraid of trouble either… It would be a mistake to underestimate the confidence, will, and strength of the country,” the newspaper wrote. “The Chinese side has warned, Canada will pay a heavy price.”
For its part, Canada has cautioned Canadians travelling in China to “exercise a high degree of caution” and has asked the Chinese for additional security for its embassy because of protests and anti-Canadian sentiment.
In his year-end media availability, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Canada needs to unequivocally denounce China’s detainment of two Canadian citizens as a result of the actions of police agencies in Canada.
“Canada needs to unite around this issue and send a clear message to the Chinese government that it is completely unacceptable that a Canadian citizen on Chinese soil is being used in this way,” he said in Ottawa on Thursday.
Scheer also took the opportunity to use the country’s current tense relationship with China as an example of Trudeau’s “naïve” leadership.
“We now find ourselves in a situation where we have Canadian citizens on foreign soil detained and a government that has pursued a policy of appeasement, putting us in a position where we don’t have the leverage we might otherwise have,” he said.
With files from The Associated Press