Canada arrests top Chinese tech company executive at US request

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Posted on: Politico | November 6th, 2018
Author: Lauren Gardner

The chief financial officer of Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co. faces extradition to the U.S. after being arrested in Canada, a Canadian official confirmed to POLITICO on Wednesday.

Sabrina Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday, and a bail hearing is set for Friday, said Ian McLeod, a spokesperson for Canada’s Department of Justice.

«As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time,» he said in a statement. «The ban was sought by Ms. Meng.»

The arrest could complicate efforts to restart long-stalled trade talks between the U.S. and China. It comes just days after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Argentina and announced a temporary truce in their trade war while talks continue. U.S. concerns about security risks posed by Chinese technology companies are one of the central points of tension between the two countries.

Meng, whose Chinese name is Meng Wanzhou, faces an investigation into whether she has run afoul of U.S. trade sanctions against Iran, the Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to register alarm over the prospect of Huawei or other Chinese state-directed companies being included in the development of Canada’s 5G network. Allegations that Huawei poses a cybersecurity risk also spurred Congress to pass legislation this summer banning the U.S. government from procuring equipment or services from the company, as well as from fellow Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, praised the arrest on Wednesday.

«China is working creatively to undermine our national security interests, and the United States and our allies can’t sit on the sidelines,» he said in a statement. «Sometimes Chinese aggression is explicitly state-sponsored and sometimes it’s laundered through many of Beijing’s so-called ‘private’ sector entities that are in bed with Xi’s communist party.»

Meng is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei. Some mainland China media have identified Meng as a leading contender to succeed her father, the South China Morning Post reported.

The Chinese government protested Canada’s actions and requested Meng’s immediate release, saying she had not violated any American or Canadian law.

“The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal liberty of Ms. Meng Wanzhou,» the statement said. “We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.”

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