China protests after U.S. confirms it will request extradition of Huawei exec
Published Tuesday, January 22, 2019 9:52AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 22, 2019 10:06PM EST
A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry says the U.S. government is infringing upon the “legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens” by pursuing the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
"Anyone with normal judgment can see that the Canadian side has made a serious mistake on this issue from the very beginning," ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Tuesday.
"We all need to shoulder responsibility for what we do. The same is true for a country. Be it Canada or the U.S., they need to grasp the seriousness of the case and take measures to correct their mistakes."
Hua made the comments after a U.S. Department of Justice official confirmed America will request the extradition of Huawei’s chief financial officer, who is being held under house arrest in Vancouver on charges in the U.S. for alleged bank fraud and violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
"We will continue to pursue the extradition of defendant Ms. Meng Wanzhou, and will meet all deadlines set by the U.S.-Canada Extradition Treaty," department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told The Canadian Press.
A Canadian official earlier confirmed to CTV News that Canada is expecting the U.S. to submit its detailed case for why Meng should be extradited in the next week or two. The deadline to make such a request is Jan. 30.
After receiving the formal request, Canada’s Department of Justice has 30 days to decide whether to proceed with an extradition hearing, pending any appeals or challenges. Canada cannot legally refuse to hold the hearing if U.S. authorities provide evidence that would justify a trial in Canada.
"At each stage of the extradition process in Canada, there is careful balancing of the interests of the person sought for extradition against Canada's international obligations," Canada’s former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said in a statement in mid-December. "The person sought is able to challenge their extradition at multiple levels, both before the superior and appellate courts in Canada, and by making submissions to me on the issue of surrender."
Asked about the case at the Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa, Wilson-Raybould’s replacement, Justice Minister David Lametti, has refused to comment given his pending, but expected, involvement.
"There is a department within the Attorney General's office that takes care of the extradition. I will only intervene after a court decision to extradite with respect to the execution of that decision. So in terms of the process I will stay away from the process in order to not be tainted if I do have to make a decision one way or the other," Lametti said on Jan. 20.
The U.S. requested Canada arrest Meng in Vancouver on Dec. 1, under the two countries’ extradition treaty. China has deplored this move and has demanded that Meng be released.
The case has since been at the centre of ongoing diplomatic tensions between Canada and China.
The news of the impending extradition comes one day after some 140 diplomats and scholars wrote a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping appealing for the release of two Canadian prisoners.
The letter said the arrests of the two Canadians will lead to "less dialogue and greater distrust, and undermine efforts to manage disagreements and identify common ground. Both China and the rest of the world will be worse off as a result."
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were both detained in China on Dec. 10, 2018, on allegations of "endangering national security," days after China threatened serious consequences for Canada following the arrest of Meng.
Canadian concern was heightened last week when Robert Schellenberg saw his 15-year prison sentence for being an accessory to drug-smuggling overturned by the Chinese courts and replaced with a death sentence.
“In this case the rule book is being tossed out the window and in its place we're entering the wild west of diplomacy where anything goes,” said Brett Bruen, who worked as director of global engagement in the Barack Obama administration and now serves as president of the security consulting firm the Global Situation Room.
On Tuesday, Canada's ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton told CTV News that he has expressed displeasure to U.S. officials that Canadian citizens are "paying the price" for a dispute between China and the U.S. MacNaughton also said that he has re-iterated that Canada will follow its treaty obligations and Canadian law in this extradition process.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television in Davos on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada has spoken to the U.S. about the case, and has not asked the Americans to drop its extradition request.
"It's a decision for the United States whether to seek an extradition of someone from Canada… that’s up to them and then they have to make the case for the extradition in our legal system," Freeland told Bloomberg Television.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Freeland have been engaged in continuous diplomatic outreach with other world allies over Canada’s ongoing dispute with China.
As part of this, Trudeau has had phone conversations with several high-profile international figures, including U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, UN Secretary General António Guterres and the prime ministers of Japan and Singapore.
"Canada will always stand up for the rule of law and we will always encourage friends, allies and thoughtful people around the world to point out that Canada stands up for the rule of law and all countries should stand up for the rule of law," Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Monday.