China’s ambassador to Canada spoke with Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou Wednesday as she neared 1,000 days in her fight to avoid extradition to the United States.
According to a statement from the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, Ambassador Cong Peiwu “expressed deep sympathy” to Ms. Meng for her “arbitrary detention,” adding that China “strongly condemns the wrong actions” of Canada in this case.
“The Chinese government is firmly committed to safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and companies,” Mr. Cong said, according to the statement. “Any attempt to bully or oppress the Chinese people will be severely beaten.”
He and Ms. Meng spoke over the phone, as she remains under house arrest at her mansion in Vancouver.
She is accused of bank fraud by the United States and was detained by the RCMP in Vancouver in December, 2018. In a document laying out its case to Canadian authorities, the U.S. says Ms. Meng lied to global bank HSBC, putting it at risk of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Her extradition hearings wrapped up in Vancouver last week. The judge is currently considering the verdict, a process that could take months.
In an op-ed published this week in The Hill Times, an Ottawa newspaper, Mr. Cong said the case against the Huawei executive “is purely a political one.”
“The U.S. government concocted the incident to repress Chinese high-tech companies and obstruct China’s development,” he wrote. “Canada is acting as a cat’s paw for the U.S. It has been used by the U.S.”
After Ms. Meng’s arrest, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained in Beijing.
Both men were charged with espionage and put on trial this year. Earlier this month, a Chinese court handed Mr. Spavor an 11-year prison sentence; there is still no verdict in Mr. Kovrig’s case. Ottawa regards their detention as political and the charges against them unfounded.
This week, the men’s families announced plans to march through Ottawa on Sept. 5, a day after the two Michaels will mark 1,000 days in prison. On Facebook, the families urged people to join them as a way to recognize the men’s “courage and resilience” and to “inspire action” that will help bring them home.
In his op-ed, Mr. Cong said “the nature of the Meng Wanzhou incident is completely different from that of the Canadian citizens’ cases.
“China is a friendly country and a country with the rule of law,” he said. “The Canadian citizens are suspected of committing crimes, and the evidence is reliable and sufficient.”
More than 99 per cent of court cases in China result in a guilty verdict, and Beijing’s prosecution of the two Michaels has been widely denounced by Western governments, including the U.S. and the European Union.
In a statement this month, an EU spokesperson said Mr. Spavor had been denied the “right to a fair trial and due process, including the right to a public hearing, as guaranteed under international human rights law and China’s Criminal Procedure Law.”
With files from Alexandra Li.
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