China on Saturday summoned the Canadian ambassador over the “unconscionable and vile” detention of telecom giant Huawei’s chief financial officer in Vancouver, state media reported, in Beijing’s latest angry response to the hot-button case.
Meng Wanzhou has been held since December 1 in Canada on an American extradition request and faces US fraud charges related to sanctions-breaking business dealings with Iran.
The 46-year-old executive was arrested in Vancouver while changing planes, ratcheting up tensions between the US and China just as the countries’ leaders agreed to a truce in their trade war.
In a statement cited by official news agency Xinhua, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said Meng’s detention was a “severe violation” of her rights and interests as a Chinese citizen.
“Such a move ignores the law and is unreasonable, unconscionable, and vile in nature,” the news agency quoted Le as saying in the statement.
Le summoned Canadian ambassador John McCallum in protest and urged Ottawa to release Meng immediately or face “grave consequences that the Canadian side should be held accountable for”, Xinhua said.
Meng — the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army — is set to remain in custody until at least Monday, when a Canadian court is expected to decide on bail.
In a hearing that was adjourned on Friday, Canadian government lawyer John Gibb-Carsley asked for bail to be denied, saying Meng has been accused of “conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions.”
He said if convicted, she faces more than 30 years in prison.
Meng is specifically accused of lying to a US bank, identified by her lawyer as “Hong Kong Bank”, about the use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of sanctions.
The extradition process could take months, even years, if appeals are made in the case.
Canada has a long-standing extradition treaty with the United States, requiring it to cooperate with US Department of Justice requests to hand over suspects.
The offence for which extradition is being sought must also be a crime in Canada, and a Canadian court must decide if there is sufficient evidence to support the extradition.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended Canada’s arrest of Meng, saying politics played no part in the decision.
A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told AFP on Saturday that Ottawa had no further comment on the case.
Huawei said Friday that it would “continue to follow the bail hearing”, expressing “every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach the right conclusion”.
Meng’s detention in Canada came on the day of a summit between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, at which they agreed to a truce in their tit-for-tat tariff battle.
The world’s top two economies have exchanged steep tariffs on more than $300 billion in total two-way trade, locking them in a conflict that has begun to eat into profits.