China demands U.S. withdraw request for Canada to extradite Huawei executive
WASHINGTON -- Canada's extradition of detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to the United States to face allegations of violating sanctions against Iran will do little to ease China's diplomatic ire towards either country any time soon, a former U.S. diplomat says.
While granting a U.S. extradition request would take some direct heat off Canada, the Trump administration's foreign policy of "bullying and being bragadocious" will only continue to erode relations over the long haul, said Brett Bruen, the White House director of global engagement during the final years of the Obama administration.
"The Trump administration has practiced -- not only with the indictment of this Huawei executive, but also with a number of intelligence officials and other foreign actors -- this policy of aggressively pursuing the enemies of the United States," Bruen said.
The repercussions, which so far appear to include the detention in China of two Canadians and a death sentence in the case of another who was convicted of drug smuggling, will only continue, he added.
"There is a boomerang effect -- there are American officials, American business executives and, clearly, Canadians who become the collateral damage, the consequences from this policy."
China again urged the U.S. on Tuesday to abandon its request for the extradition of Meng, who remains under house arrest in Vancouver -- including formal documentation that is due by Jan. 30 and which is forthcoming, American officials have reportedly told their Canadian counterparts.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not mince words Tuesday as she excoriated both countries for what she called an arbitrary and unjust abuse of the extradition agreement between Canada and the U.S. that "infringes upon the security and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens."
"Anyone with normal judgment can see that the Canadian side has made a serious mistake on this issue from the very beginning," Hua said as she urged both countries to stand down.
"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."
The demand comes a day after 140 international China experts -- including five former Canadian ambassadors -- urged President Xi Jinping to free the two detained Canadians. The letter praises former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor as bridge-builders between China and the world, and said their detentions will make its authors "more cautious" about travelling to China.
"Kovrig and Spavor's detentions send a message that this kind of constructive work is unwelcome and even risky in China," the letter says. "That 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."
China detained the pair on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities. A Chinese court also sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death last week for a previous drug-smuggling conviction.
Meng is Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei. Huawei has close ties to China's military and is considered one of the country's most successful international enterprises, operating in the high-tech sphere where China hopes to establish dominance.
Meng is living under house arrest in her Vancouver mansion while her case is under deliberation. Kovrig and Spavor are being held in Chinese jails and have yet to be granted access to lawyers, according to those who have contact with them.
The detentions and deteriorating relations have spilled over into talks on Huawei's push to build Canada's next-generation wireless networks.
China's ambassador to Canada warned last week of repercussions if the federal government bars Huawei from supplying equipment for faster, more resilient communications systems than cellphone users have now.
When asked Monday about the government's ongoing national-security review of Huawei's potential involvement, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said there are other suppliers besides Huawei that can set up Canada's 5G networks.
A Chinese foreign-ministry spokeswoman attempted to play down the earlier remarks by Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye, who told reporters in Ottawa last Thursday that there would be "repercussions" if Canada bans Huawei from 5G work.