Trudeau denies involvement in Huawei arrest

The Canadian government was given a few days' notice of the imminent arrest of Huawei's CFO on behalf of US authorities, with Wanzhou Meng facing a bail hearing on Friday.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied any involvement in the arrest of Huawei CFO and deputy chair Wanzhou Meng in Vancouver Airport this week.

However, Trudeau confirmed that his government had been given several days notice about plans to arrest Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and is now facing extradition to the United States following a scheduled bail hearing on Friday.

"The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference," Trudeau told media in Montreal on Thursday.

"We were advised by them with a few days' notice that this was in the works."

Trudeau added that he has had no conversations with the Chinese government about the case, which has said it firmly opposes the arrest and demanded Canada "immediately correct the mistake" and release Meng.

Beijing asked Washington and Ottawa to "immediately release the detained person" and explain the reason for her arrest, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, adding that her arrest without explanation of the charge is a violation of her human rights.

News of the arrest brought stock markets down, amid fears of increased tension between the US and China, whose presidents just last week announced they had reached an agreement to halt any additional tariffs from being imposed as a result of their ongoing trade war.

In a statement, Huawei said it has no knowledge of any wrongdoing by Meng.

"The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges, and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng. The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion," Huawei said.

"Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US, and EU."

Meng was detained provisionally by Canadian authorities on behalf of the US on Wednesday while she was transferring flights in Vancouver, and is facing as yet unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York.

According to The Wall Street Journal, since 2016, US prosecutors have been examining whether Huawei violated United States trade sanctions with Iran.

Fellow Chinese technology giant ZTE had similarly been removed from the US trading blacklist at the start of last year by the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security following the company's guilty plea to illegally exporting products to Iran.

Earlier this year, ZTE was then issued with another export ban, with the Chinese company saying "the major operating activities of the company have ceased". However, US President Donald Trump said at the time he would speak to the department on reversing this as a personal favour.

The Department of Commerce then lifted its export ban on ZTE in mid-July after ZTE paid the penalty.

"While we lifted the ban on ZTE, the department will remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE's actions to ensure compliance with all US laws and regulations," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at the time.

However, Trump's administration has been cracking down on Chinese involvement in the American tech sphere, including with draft legislation barring the sale of national security-sensitive technology to China and blocking government or contractors from buying telecommunications equipment and services from both Huawei and ZTE.

The heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the director of national intelligence to the Senate Intelligence Committee had also recommended in February that Americans not use products from ZTE and Huawei.

In July, Huawei wrote to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) arguing that the nation should not miss out on its market-leading technology, and pointed out that its exclusion would drive up consumer costs for mobile services.

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

With AAP

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