China has held thirteen Canadians since Huawei CFO arrest: Report

The number of Canadians known to be detained by China since December has quadrupled, as China's top prosecutor says one pair have "without a doubt" violated the law.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Since the December 1 arrest in Vancouver of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, the number of Canadians known to be detained by China has more than quadrupled, with Global Affairs Canada confirming the number has risen to thirteen, The Globe and Mail reported on Thursday.

Global Affairs Canada said all had been detained in mainland China and at least eight have been released.

However the report also added that the overall number of Canadians detained in the Middle Kingdom has remained steady for a number of years.

The Huawei CFO, who is also the company's founder's daughter, is accused by the United States of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating US sanctions. She was released on bail in Vancouver, where she owns two homes, while waiting to learn if she will be extradited to the United States. She is due in court on February 6, 2019.

Last month, then-Huawei Chairman Ken Hu said any evidence against the company should be revealed.

"If you have proof and evidence, it should be made public, maybe not to the general public, not to Huawei," he said. "But at the very least, it should be made known to telecom operators, because it's telecom operators who are going to buy from Huawei."

Hu said the company has never had a serious cybersecurity incident, and has never taken requests from any government to "damage the business or networks of our customers or other countries".

"When it comes to security allegations, it's best to let the facts speak for themselves. And the fact is: Huawei's record on security is clean," he said.

In a 2019 New Year's message, rotating Huawei chair Guo Ping said the company has a "very strong track record" in cyber security.

"Huawei has never and will never present a security threat," he wrote. "We will hold ourselves to the highest standards, placing cyber security and privacy protection at the very top of our agenda."

"We plan to systematically enhance our software engineering capabilities over the next five years, building trust and high quality into each and every one of our products and solutions."

The chair added that the company needed to remain calm in the face of adverse international politics over the next year.

"We must not be discouraged by malicious incidents or temporary setbacks, and must remain determined to achieve global leadership," he wrote.

"Setbacks will only make us more courageous, and incredibly unfair treatment will drive us to become the world's number one."

Over recent months, Huawei's 5G equipment has so far been banned or limited by the US, Australia, and New Zealand, while the UK's BT said it would be stripping Huawei from EE's mobile core.

Last week, Reuters reported United States President Donald Trump was considering an executive order to declare a national emergency that would bar US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by China's Huawei and ZTE.

China says Canadians violated the law

Two Canadians detained by China had "without a doubt" violated the law, China's top prosecutor says.

Authorities in Beijing had previously said the two men, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank, and businessman Michael Spavor, were suspected of endangering state security.

"Without a doubt, these two Canadian citizens in China violated our country's laws and regulations, and are currently undergoing investigation according to procedure," Zhang Jun, China's prosecutor general, said on Thursday.

Zhang said the investigation process had been handled "strictly" according to law when asked by Reuters at a briefing when the two men might be charged. He did not elaborate.

Canada has said several times it saw no explicit link between the arrest of Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, and the detentions of Kovrig and Spavor.

But Beijing-based Western diplomats and former Canadian diplomats have said they have no doubt the cases are linked.

Canada has said the detentions are unacceptable and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said China should free the men.

China touts the rule of law, but its judicial system is tightly controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

With AAP

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