A decade after she joined Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Meng Wanzhou paid her first visit to Vancouver in 2003 as a tourist from China.
She grew fond of the West Coast, and sent two of her four children to attend school in Vancouver. She even became a permanent resident in Canada, although she later relinquished that status. Her husband studied for a master’s degree in British Columbia’s largest city. Over the years, in-laws stayed summers at one of the couple’s two properties.
The ties to Vancouver are part of arguments raised by Ms. Meng and her lawyers as they seek to have the Huawei executive released on bail. Authorities arrested Ms. Meng on Dec. 1 as she was transiting through Vancouver International Airport. The United States alleges she violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.
One of her lawyers, David Martin, said in court filings that Ms. Meng is “a mother of four and an accomplished businesswoman. She does not have a criminal record.”
Mr. Martin details his client’s credentials, including holding a master’s degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. She joined Huawei in 1993 and worked her way up the ranks. “The alleged offences here are neither violent nor hateful, nor do they involve a criminal gang or terrorist organization,” he said in a factum to argue for her release.
Mr. Martin said his client’s passport would be turned over to authorities, so she would not be able to board an international flight.
In her own affidavit, Ms. Meng said she should be granted bail and released from a B.C. prison since she is in fragile health and doesn’t pose a flight risk.
“I survived thyroid cancer, for which I underwent surgery in 2011,” she said in her affidavit filed in B.C. Supreme Court. “In May of 2018 I had surgery to remedy health issues related to sleep apnea. I currently have difficulty eating solid foods and have had to modify my diet to address those issues.”
The affidavit from the Huawei chief financial officer, who is the daughter of the Chinese telecom giant’s founder, paints a portrait of the 46-year-old as someone with who has ties to Vancouver through real estate and family members.
“While I am a Chinese citizen and normally reside in China, my family has extensive ties to Canada, and Vancouver in particular,” she said.
Her father, Ren Zhengfei, founded Huawei in 1987 and guided it to become China’s largest private enterprise.
“I would never do anything that would cause the company reputational damage,” she said in her affidavit released to the media on Sunday, emphasizing she poses no threat to public safety. “I wish to remain in Vancouver to contest my extradition and I will contest the allegations at trial in the U.S. if I am ultimately surrendered.”
None of the allegations against Ms. Meng have been proven in court. The bail hearing resumes in Vancouver on Monday. Federal Crown counsel said in court on Friday that Ms. Meng has a pattern of avoiding travel to the United States in recent years, arguing her wealth and global connections made her an extreme flight risk.
But Ms. Meng points to her connections to the West Coast, noting she bought a house in Vancouver in 2009 with her husband, Liu Xiaozong. The couple bought another Vancouver home in 2016. Both properties are registered in the name of Mr. Liu, who lived in Vancouver while working on his master’s degree.
“Even after the children stopped attending school in Vancouver, my husband and my younger children spent many weeks, sometimes months, here during the summer,” Ms. Meng said in her affidavit sworn in Vancouver.
She added that since 2010, her in-laws have stayed at one of the properties, typically over the summer period. “My mother and my older son have also visited us in Vancouver,” Ms. Meng said.
Ms. Meng and her husband bought their first property in 2009 in Vancouver’s Dunbar neighbourhood. That was assessed at $5,609,000 on July 1, 2017. In 2016, they made their second purchase, this time in the city’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood, with an assessed value of $16,327,000 in mid-2017.
She said she is willing to put up one or both properties as security in the bail hearing, and also abide by any court-ordered curfew requirements.