Liberal government will still seek deeper trade ties despite Beijing fury over Meng extradition

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OTTAWA —Two weeks ago when the Canadian government put global bonds worth $3 billion (U.S.) up on auction, Chinese investors dove in to buy up a “significant” portion of what was on offer.

It was smack in the midst of Beijing’s fury over Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

In an auction that drew about $8 billion worth of orders from North America, Europe and Asia, nearly $6 billion are said to have come from China – a clear sign, according to a senior Canadian official, that tensions in the deepening dispute over Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s deputy chair and chief financial officer have not blown up Canada-China relations.

“Of course we’re in a difficult moment,” said the senior government insider, speaking on a background-only basis. “Many things are currently on hold.”

However, the source said, “it’s a good thing” if China is interested in holding Canadian government debt.

“We want them to invest, right?” the official said and, although bilateral relations are tense at the moment, “It’s a long-term relationship.”

In fact, if anything, the Trudeau government is determined to solidify long-term ties even as Beijing warns Canada and the U.S. of consequences for Meng’s arrest and extradition request; even as the Conservative opposition blasts Trudeau for his “naïve” approach to China; amid signs Canadians are uneasy about the Liberal handling of the affair.

One national poll by the Angus Reid Institute said nine in 10 Canadians view the diplomatic tensions as a serious matter for the government. It pegged Canadian dissatisfaction with its approach at 52 per cent.

There’s little question the Meng Wanzhou affair has set Trudeau’s government on a diplomatic knife’s edge.

After Ottawa approved a U.S. request to arrest Meng at Vancouver airport on Dec. 1, China’s state security forces jailed two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — and slapped the death sentence on a third Canadian, Robert Schellenberg.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, ignoring Beijing, told a town hall in Milton on Thursday he will continue to rally international allies to “make sure that China understands Canada is going to unequivocally stand up for the rule of law, respect our international treaties and obligations, and always put the safety of Canadians first.”

Trudeau hastened to add, “But we don’t want to escalate.” He recognized China as “an extremely important and growing economy, a significant player on the world stage.”

Read more:

More than 1,000 people attend Trudeau town hall in Milton

Detained Canadian Michael Spavor gets third consular visit in China since his arrest

Crisis group says it trusts Ottawa to help free detainees after McCallum firing

He said his government looks forward to “continuing to trade with China but we need the Chinese authorities to understand that when it comes to the rule of law, Canada and an awful lot of other countries will stand firm regardless of the political pressures they put on us.”

Observers like former ambassador to China David Mulroney, speaking on CBC, argue events have shown there can be no return to the diplomacy of the past.

“The illusion dies hard, but we’ve got to let it die,” said Mulroney on CBC’s Power and Politics.

Mulroney said while Canada has economic interests in having a relationship with China, “we also need to think about risks to our democracy, we need to think about China threats at home and abroad; and we need to think about shedding the illusion that somehow it’s a democracy or a state just like us, because it isn’t.”

Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole believes the government has badly handled the Meng affair and worse, has “no coherent” China strategy at all.

O’Toole says Trudeau never understood the shifting sands in China because he was too eager to make free trade with world’s fastest growing economy his political legacy, and didn’t take into account that China had “doubled down” on state control of enterprise. He said Trudeau was oblivious to President Xi Jinping’s growing powers.

That hard-sell “rah-rah-rah Team Canada approach” led the Chinese on to think “hey, we’re growing as sort of their best friend within the Western alliance,” says O’Toole.

Certainly Trudeau’s strategy shifted away from pursuing a comprehensive free trade deal after the prime-minister’s ill-fated December 2017 trip to Beijing. That’s when the Chinese rejected outright Canada’s demand that free trade talks include gender and labour rights, according to Canadian journalists covering the trip.

Scant months later, in March 2018, China’s Xi consolidated his power and presidential term limits were formally lifted, leading Western critics to describe his ambition as “president for life.”

That is when, according to a third government source, the Trudeau government realized it had to shift its sights.

In the past year, the Liberals turned to a sector-by-sector approach to improving trade, with cabinet members like finance minister Bill Morneau and trade diversification minister Jim Carr travelling to Beijing as recently as two weeks before Meng’s blockbuster arrest.

Even if that strategy is on hold amid the current tensions, Guy Saint-Jacques, another former Canadian ambassador to China, says it too is doomed to fail because, for the Chinese, it will never be enough.

Saint-Jacques said the recent events “force us is to look at what I would call the dark side of China, which is an authoritarian regime . . . and will force the government to revise the engagement strategy . . . and work with our partners, and say what can we achieve by working together.”

He said Canada is too small a country to force Beijing to play by different rules. “They will just ignore us and punish us. That’s why we are at the stage where we need to revise our approach and be a bit smarter.”

The next big test for the Canada-China relationship is Ottawa’s looming decision whether to allow Huawei to participate in developing high speed next-generation or 5G wireless internet technology.

Several U.S. agencies have already banned Huawei, citing security fears the Chinese government would force Huawei to spy on the West. Australia and New Zealand, two of Canada’s other “Five Eyes” allies followed suit. Britain is considering it, as its biggest telecom company BT Group rejected Huawei gear for its systems.

Trudeau said Thursday the Huawei decision must not be approached with a “political mindset” but will be decided on “evidence-based” recommendations from Canadian security experts who are consulting “experts around the world to evaluate how . . . to keep Canadians safe, make sure that our data is safe, make sure that our secure communications are secure, but also that we’re taking on the best technology in the world at affordable prices.”

That leaves the door still open to Huawei. For now.

For University of Ottawa professor Roland Paris, who had a front-row seat to the early days of Trudeau’s engagement with China, a lot has transpired since 2015 when Trudeau met Xi at the G20 in Turkey on his first trip abroad as prime minister.

Paris, Trudeau’s former foreign policy adviser, says he now shares the security concerns about Huawei, and sees China behaving “much more aggressively both at home and internationally.”

But Paris says it doesn’t serve Canada’s interests “to adopt a Cold War mentality.”

China, then and now, “is unlike any power we’ve ever seen,” said Paris. “The Soviet Union was a full-spectrum enemy during the Cold War. China is not an enemy. It is simultaneously a partner and an adversary.”

What that means, he says, “is we have to defend ourselves against China when it acts aggressively but it’s also in our interests to co-operate with China in areas of mutual interest.”

That includes increasing exports to China and working with its Communist Party leaders on the environment and tackling climate change, for example.

But Paris says the Trudeau government has to also be realistic about public opinion even as it continues to engage with China.

“By detaining Canadians,” said Paris, “China has acted with a measure of aggressiveness that Canadians will not forget.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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Meng Wanzhou expected in B.C. Supreme Court to make changes to bail order

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Vancouver—Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is expected to appear at B.C. Supreme Court at 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time Tuesday to make changes to her bail order.

Meng, who was arrested on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, was granted $10 million bail on Dec. 11.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, right, arrives at a parole office with a member of her private security detail in Vancouver, on Wednesday December 12. She is expected in court this morning to make a change to one of the people acting as sureties for her $10 million bail.
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, right, arrives at a parole office with a member of her private security detail in Vancouver, on Wednesday December 12. She is expected in court this morning to make a change to one of the people acting as sureties for her $10 million bail.  (DARRYL DYCK / The Canadian Press)

In a statement, the Canadian Department of Justice said on Tuesday Meng is seeking to change the name of one of the people named as a surety in her bail order.

“The British Columbia Supreme Court will decide whether or not to consider and accept a substitute surety for Ms. Meng,” said Ian McLeod, with the DOJ.

“The Crown agrees/agreed to this application, and it was anticipated at the time of the original bail order for Ms. Meng.”

Read more:

China reacts with warnings to Canada and U.S. to drop charges, Meng extradition

Chinese state media coverage of John McCallum’s dismissal shows former ambassador was viewed as an ally, says expert

U.S. unveils 23 criminal charges against China’s Huawei as Ottawa fights to free two Canadians detained by Beijing in retaliation

Previously, five parties had been named as surety, including a realtor who put up his own home, worth $1.8 million, two former employees of Huawei and their family members, a neighbour, Scot Filer, CEO of Lions Gate Risk Management — the group responsible for making sure she sticks to bail conditions, in addition to cash put up by her husband, Liu Xiaozong.

It’s unclear which party the Tuesday bail order change application involves.

More to come

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Ambassador John McCallum says it would be ‘great for Canada’ if U.S. drops extradition request for Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

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VANCOUVER—After his earlier comments on Meng Wanzhou drew calls for his firing, Canada’s ambassador to China is now arguing it would be “great” if the United States relinquishes its attempt to extradite Huawei’s chief financial officer.

“From Canada’s point of view, if (the U.S.) drops the extradition request, that would be great for Canada,” John McCallum told the Star on Friday.

Canadian Ambassador to China John McCallum said it “would be great for Canada” if the U.S. dropped it’s extradition request from Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Canadian Ambassador to China John McCallum said it “would be great for Canada” if the U.S. dropped it’s extradition request from Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.  (Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo)

The Star’s reporter, speaking to McCallum at a charity lunch in downtown Vancouver, identified herself as a journalist at the beginning of the conversation and held out a recorder while they spoke.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday he is standing by the ambassador, in spite of Conservative calls for McCallum to be fired for saying Huawei’s Meng has “strong arguments” to fight extradition to the United States.

In a series of surprisingly frank comments earlier this week, McCallum also revealed new details about the strain on Canada-China relations and the pressure Canada faces from allies to ban Huawei.

He told the Star on Friday that if the U.S. strikes a deal with China, it should benefit Canada.

“We have to make sure that if the U.S. does such a deal, it also includes the release of our two people. And the U.S. is highly aware of that,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not reply to Star requests for comment.

Roland Paris, former senior adviser to Trudeau on global affairs, told the Star that Canadians should not be used as “bargaining chips.”

“I don’t have a comment on that scenario,” he said when asked for his thoughts on McCallum’s most recent comments.

Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, front centre, poses for photo with former B.C. premier Christy Clark, front left, at a dim sum charity luncheon in downtown Vancouver on Friday.
Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, front centre, poses for photo with former B.C. premier Christy Clark, front left, at a dim sum charity luncheon in downtown Vancouver on Friday.  (Joanna Chiu/StarMetro)

“I think though that it remains really important for Canada, it is very important for Canada to build international support,” he said.

“The Chinese should not be holding any Canadians for diplomatic leverage, if that’s indeed what they’re doing. And the United States should be backing Canada, should have Canada’s back because we are paying a price for fulfilling the terms of our extradition treaty.”

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor remain in custody at undisclosed locations in China. Kovrig is being kept in a continuously lit room and is being questioned several times daily by Chinese authorities, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG), Kovrig’s former employer.

The ambassador stressed to the Star Friday that his “priority is to see our two detainees” after he returns to China on Saturday.

McCallum told the Star he is allowed to visit Kovrig and Spavor once a month.

“Physically he’s fine, by looking at him,” McCallum said about Kovrig. He added both men are able to exercise and practice yoga regularly.

Joanna Chiu is assistant managing editor of StarMetro Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachiu

Wanyee Li is a Vancouver-based reporter covering courts, wildlife conservation and new technology. Follow her on Twitter: @wanyeelii

Michael Mui is a Vancouver-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @mui24hours

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Trudeau sidesteps ambassador’s comments about strength of defence in Meng case

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OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau says he expects the Huawei executive Canada arrested last month will mount a defence to avoid being extradited to the United States but would not say whether he thinks she has a good case.

The prime minister appeared to be sidestepping remarks by his envoy to China that there are strong legal arguments Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou can make to help her avoid extradition to the United States.

John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, says there are strong legal arguments Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou can make to help her avoid extradition to the United States.
John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, says there are strong legal arguments Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou can make to help her avoid extradition to the United States.  (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

“We have always highlighted that Canada is a country of the rule of law, and we will make sure that the rule of law is properly and fully followed. That of course includes the opportunity for her to mount a strong defence,” Trudeau told reporters in Saskatchewan.

“The strength of our justice system is people get to mount their own defence. I know she will do that.”

On Tuesday, John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, told Chinese reporters in the Toronto area there were several arguments Meng’s legal team can make in her defence.

She was arrested Dec. 1 by Canadian authorities in Vancouver at the behest of U.S. authorities, who have alleged she used a Huawei subsidiary to evade sanctions against Iran.

He was speaking to Chinese reporters Tuesday in the Toronto area, and listed several arguments Meng’s legal team can make in her defence.

Meng’s arrest has put Canada in a deeply uncomfortable position between two sparring superpowers, which are also its two largest trading partners. As a result, the Canada-China relationship has deteriorated in recent weeks and Beijing has warned Ottawa of serious consequences unless she is released.

McCallum said her lawyer could argue that there has been possible political involvement following recent comments by U.S. President Donald Trump. Last month, Trump raised questions about the basis of the extradition request by musing in an interview with Reuters about intervening in Meng’s case if it would help him strike a trade deal with China.

McCallum also said she can argue against the extra-territorial aspect to her case and the fact the fraud allegations against Meng are related to Iran sanctions, which Canada did not sign onto.

“I think she has some strong arguments that she can make before a judge,” McCallum said during his opening remarks to reporters.

In the days that followed Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians. Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations of engaging in activities that have endangered China’s national security. They remain in Chinese custody.

China also sentenced another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, to death in a sudden retrial of his drug-smuggling case. He was originally sentenced in 2016 to a 15-year term, but the court delivered the new sentence last week after reconsidering his case.

Western analysts believe the arrests and the death sentence are part of an attempt by Beijing to pressure Canada into releasing Meng.

The Chinese government has insisted Meng has done nothing wrong — and has pointed out that she hasn’t broken any Canadian laws.

McCallum, who used the opportunity to speak with Chinese journalists to explain how Canada’s extradition law works, also said he was aware the Meng case had personally upset Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“I do know that President Xi Jinping was very angry about this and so others in the Chinese government have taken the lead from him, and I don’t know exactly why,” McCallum said.

“Maybe it’s because Huawei is a national flagship company of China. It’s not just any company, it’s a special Chinese company. So, maybe that is why he is so angry.”

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U.S.-China trade tensions deepen with Meng extradition request

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OTTAWA—The head of the U.S. China Business Council says he is concerned about China’s “nationalistic response” to the extradition arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Craig Allen, a former U.S. diplomat and now president of the Washington-based group that promotes bilateral trade with China, said in an interview with the Star that China’s threats against the U.S. and arrests of two Canadians are especially worrying.

“I think President Trump really muddied the waters when he said he’d be willing, essentially, to link the two issues, that is the trade issue and allegations (against Meng) of criminal activity. And I think that was very unfortunate because it opened the door for allegations that this has been done for trade negotiating purposes.”

“And I think it behooves us, really, to keep legal and criminal types of issues separate and divorced from trade policy negotiating issues.”

Trump told Reuters in December he wouldn’t hesitate to intervene with the Justice Department in the Meng case: “Whatever’s good for this country, I would do.” He said, “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

As the deadline looms next week for the U.S. to submit its formal request, there is a lot of speculation in U.S. business circles about deep divisions within Trump’s chaotic White House over whether to proceed with the Meng extradition, with some suggestions of a split between administration “hawks” on China and those who want to drop the Meng case in order to secure a trade deal with China. Those rumours have reached industry circles in Canada as well, according to a source who spoke to the Star on condition of anonymity.

Allen told the Star he too has heard talk of differences of opinion within the Administration but had no direct knowledge of any discussions.

Nonetheless, the U.S. justice department through a spokesman said Tuesday publicly what it has conveyed privately to its Canadian counterpart, as the Star reported last week: it is going to press ahead with charges against Meng and will file necessary documents to support its extradition request with Canada’s justice department before the Jan. 30 deadline.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told a Bloomberg interviewer on Tuesday the Canadian government has not and will not ask the U.S. to drop its extradition request, saying it would be “absolutely wrong” to politicize the case.

Yet in Beijing, the Chinese government made clear Tuesday there would be an impact on the high-stakes U.S.-China trade talks if the extradition were to proceed.

“This case is a serious mistake and we urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

“What the U.S. has done, with its egregious nature, severely infringes upon the legal and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens. China is firmly opposed to that. We urge the U.S. side to take seriously the solemn position of the Chinese side, take measures to correct its wrongdoings and withdraw its arrest order for the Chinese citizen. China will make further response in view of the actions taken by the U.S.”

Allen said many American businesses are concerned about the latest developments including China’s detention of Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor on unspecified allegations of violating national security laws.

“We’re waiting and watching to see what happens with Meng Wanzhou because there is absolutely a connection here. You’d have to be deliberately blind not to notice that,” he said.

The Trudeau government has protested Kovrig’s and Spavor’s arrests as “arbitrary” — the same word it used to describe a Chinese court’s ruling last week that converted a Canadian man’s 15-year jail term into a death sentence.

Beijing rejected Canada’s call for clemency, saying it will not interfere with “judicial sovereignty.”

“We’re thinking and praying for our Canadian friends who are in a difficult circumstance in China,” Allen said.

It has all made U.S. businesses, especially tech company employees who work in China, nervous about travel and determined to “scrupulously” follow local laws and regulations, he said.

A U.S. China Business Council survey of its members in 2018 showed American companies are worried about the “increasingly rocky” U.S.-China relationship.

The survey found 73 per cent reported their business is affected by bilateral trade tensions, with “political risk” in the bilateral relationship cited as the top concern. “And their political risk has risen as a result of the confrontational attitude between the two countries, and the threat of additional tariffs being imposed on March 2 if no accommodation is reached is a real threat,” said Allen.

Washington and Beijing have set a deadline to reach a trade agreement of March 1 but the two governments are at loggerheads over what the other regards as protectionist measures, especially when it comes to intellectual property, and forced technology transfers.

Both countries have imposed significant tariffs on the other, and Trump has threatened to double rates on Chinese exports if no deal is reached.

“I believe that could happen,” said Allen. “We all believe that that could happen and it would have quite large implications on bilateral trade and it would have negative implications on economic growth in the United States and probably China too, not to mention regional and global supply chains.”

“Business hates uncertainty,” he said.

So does Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Morneau told the Star the day before Beijing stepped up its criticism of the U.S. that while the Canadian economy is doing well overall, the uncertainty created by U.S.-China trade tensions is “the bigger unknown” that could have an impact on global growth.

“The Canadian discussions, the diplomatic challenge we’re having with China, of course there will be impacts,” Morneau said Monday. “Our sense is that those impacts for some businesses could be something they’re considering, but more broadly for the economy they’re not the first thing we’re worried about, we’re looking more at the global trading situation as a bigger challenge.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou has an extra passport that wasn’t listed in court records — and it’s only available to China’s elite

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VANCOUVER—The U.S. government’s hunch that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou had passports beyond the seven it listed to oppose her release on bail appears to be true.

What it actually means is unclear, as no one would say whether she handed over the special Chinese passport over, let alone whether it could be used to leave the country.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou talks to a member of her private security detail in Vancouver on Dec. 12, 2018.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou talks to a member of her private security detail in Vancouver on Dec. 12, 2018.  (DARRYL DYCK / The Canadian Press)

The Hong Kong Companies Registry has confirmed to StarMetro that Meng has a special public affairs passport issued by the Chinese government. It was not included in a December court submission by U.S. federal attorney Richard Donoghue, who warned that it was “entirely possible” she had more than the seven passports she had previously used to travel to the U.S.

When asked if the passport was still valid, Hong Kong’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said companies are required by law to keep an index with identity information of its directors and that the information must be up to date.

“There are statutory requirements that if there is any change in the particulars mentioned, the company must, within 15 days of the change, deliver to the Registrar for registration a notice in the specified form to report such change,” the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said in an email.

It’s unclear if Meng surrendered the public affairs passport — issued only to China’s elite business and government officials — as part of her bail conditions, because documents released to StarMetro have been heavily redacted. Government and court officials on both sides of the border have either not responded to or declined multiple requests for interviews related to Meng’s travel documents.

Read more:

U.S. Department of Justice says it will proceed with request to extradite Meng Wanzhou

China tells U.S. to back off Meng extradition demand and warns of ‘further response’

Former ambassadors and academics urge China’s president to release Canadian men

The Canadian Department of Justice said any passports held by Meng must be handed over to the RCMP, but declined to comment on whether this particular passport was among those surrendered. The RCMP also declined to comment, citing the case as an ongoing investigation.

“The bail order issued by the BC Supreme Court specifies that Ms. Meng must surrender any and all passports and travel documents to the RCMP. For privacy reasons, we cannot specify the numbers of the passports that were surrendered,” said Ian McLeod, a spokesman with the Canadian Department of Justice.

The public affairs passport has the letter P before its numbers — setting it apart from all passport numbers that have been linked to Meng and made public.

As part of her bail conditions, Meng Wanzhou is living in this Vancouver house and must be monitred 24/7 by an ankle bracelet and a private security detail.
As part of her bail conditions, Meng Wanzhou is living in this Vancouver house and must be monitred 24/7 by an ankle bracelet and a private security detail.  (Jesse Winter/StarMetro Vancouver)

Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said holding one of these passports is a sign of prestige in the country.

Among other things, “it means you can use special lanes at the airport,” Saint-Jacques said.

“When we received requests of Chinese delegations coming to Canada, I would ask how come they have such a passport and not a regular passport? I think it’s part of these shenanigans and the way the China government works and the connections one has,” he added.

Meng’s numerous passports played a key role in the lengthy bail hearing that followed her Dec. 1 arrest at the Vancouver airport.

Both the Attorney General of Canada and the U.S. government, in opposing her release while awaiting extradition, cited the risk she could use her wealth, resources and multiple passports to flee the country. Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley had described her flight risk as “unmanageable.”

Judge William Ehrcke granted Meng’s bail release with multiple conditions, including that she surrender all of her passports.

He concluded, after verbal arguments in the courtroom, that only two of Meng’s passports were valid for travel at that time.

With files from Joanna Chiu

Michael Mui is a Vancouver-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @mui24hours

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China tells U.S. to back off Meng extradition demand and warns of ‘further response’

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OTTAWA—China is stepping up criticism of the United States over the American demand that Canada extradite Meng Wanzhou, saying the Trump administration should drop its pursuit of fraud allegations against the Huawei executive and warning of a “further response” if the U.S. doesn’t “correct its mistakes.”

On Tuesday, Chinese government spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that the U.S. should “immediately correct its mistake, withdraw its arrest order for Ms. Meng Wanzhou and refrain from making a formal extradition request to the Canadian side.”

Asked whether there would be an impact on high-stakes trade talks now underway between the U.S. and China if the extradition were to proceed, Hua replied: “This case is a serious mistake and we urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake.”

“What the U.S. has done, with its egregious nature, severely infringes upon the legal and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens. China is firmly opposed to that. We urge the U.S. side to take seriously the solemn position of the Chinese side, take measures to correct its wrongdoings and withdraw its arrest order for the Chinese citizen. China will make further response in view of the actions taken by the U.S.”

To date, China has mainly taken public aim at Canada.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry spokesperson nevertheless continued to blast Canada for arresting Meng.

“Be it Canada or the U.S., they need to grasp the seriousness of the case and take measures to correct their mistakes.”

Hua slammed the “ridiculous logic” of security concerns about Huawei’s technology equipment, and suggested the extradition process is being used as a way to target Huawei.

“The flagrant and unwarranted suppression on Chinese hi-tech companies will be proved to be terribly wrong by history. I believe that fairness and justice will prevail.”

“We keep stressing that security issues need to be backed up by facts. The U.S., Canada and several of their so-called allies have been going all out to create a sense of panic worldwide to the effect that whoever uses China’s hi-tech communications equipment will be spied on by China. But, do they have any evidence?! No. If they can offer no evidence, they’d better halt their ridiculous blabbering which only makes them a laughingstock for all.”

A week after Meng’s arrest was publicly revealed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing summoned the Canadian ambassador first, then the U.S. ambassador to formally raise objections in private.

But no U.S. citizens are known to have been targeted by Chinese state security forces as a result while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s detention of the two Canadian men “unlawful” and “unacceptable” and demanded their release after meeting with Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland last month.

Canadians Michael Kovrig, a former employee of Canada’s embassy in Beijing now working for International Crisis Group, and businessman Michael Spavor are being held in an undisclosed location, in cells where the lights are kept on round the clock, and they are interrogated for four hours a day.

A day after she first questioned the credibility of the more than 140 scholars and diplomats who signed an open letter urging China to release the two Canadian detainees, Hua intensified her criticism of them, according to a Chinese government translation posted on the government’s website.

She accused the letter writers of “deliberately creating a sense of panic” and said they “interfered in China’s judicial sovereignty” by trying to “pile on pressure” on China with the much publicized letter.

“Do they wish to see an open letter undersigned by the 1.4 billion Chinese people addressed to the Canadian leader? I believe that the voice for justice from the Chinese people must be much louder than the sound made by just over 100 people.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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Affaire Meng: le Canada ne pouvait se dérober à ses obligations, dit Freeland

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« Tourner les coins ronds » pour éviter d’arrêter une haute dirigeante chinoise à la demande des États-Unis n’était tout simplement pas envisageable, même pour esquiver une situation politique délicate, a fait valoir la ministre des Affaires étrangères, Chrystia Freeland.

Dans une entrevue accordée à La Presse canadienne, Mme Freeland a déclaré que ce type de tactique minerait l’engagement du Canada à l’égard de la primauté du droit à un moment où celle-ci est menacée dans le monde entier.

La ministre a estimé qu’il fallait « faire très attention » en suggérant de « tourner les coins ronds » en ce qui a trait à l’État de droit et aux obligations découlant d’un traité international.

Selon Mme Freeland, il s’agit de l’un des « fondements de tout ce qui fait la grandeur du pays, l’un des fondements de notre démocratie ».

Deux Canadiens sont détenus à Pékin depuis l’arrestation de Meng Wanzhou, directrice financière de Huawei Technologies, le 1er décembre à Vancouver.

Certains chefs d’entreprise et des analystes ont laissé entendre que le Canada aurait dû trouver un moyen de contourner ses obligations envers les États-Unis en vertu de la Loi sur l’extradition afin d’éviter les tensions avec la Chine et les États-Unis.

Mme Freeland a catégoriquement rejeté cette idée, affirmant que cela compromettrait la crédibilité du Canada auprès d’autres pays, y compris des « partenaires » du Canada en matière d’extradition.

Le gouvernement chinois et des médias d’État ont vilipendé la décision canadienne d’arrêter Mme Meng et ridiculisé l’argument de l’État de droit. Le président américain, Donald Trump, a également sapé la position du Canada lorsqu’il a laissé entendre lors d’une entrevue la semaine dernière qu’il pourrait intervenir dans l’affaire Meng si cela pouvait l’aider à conclure un accord commercial avec la Chine.

« Vous pourriez appeler cela une approche glissante ; vous pourriez l’appeler une approche de comptoir à salade », a déclaré Mme Freeland.

« La règle de droit ne consiste pas à suivre la règle de droit quand cela vous convient », a-t-elle ajouté.

Mme Freeland a parlé de l’importance du fait que l’ambassadeur du Canada en Chine, John McCallum, ait pu rencontrer les deux Canadiens détenus, l’entrepreneur Michael Spavor et l’ancien diplomate Michael Kovrig.

Mais elle a déclaré que cet accès n’est qu’un « premier pas » dans l’aide à ces deux hommes et à leur famille.

Mme Meng a été libérée sous caution et doit comparaître devant la cour à Vancouver en février pour ce qui risque d’être un long processus judiciaire.

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EXCLUSIVE: China, Meng Wanzhou and Canada — how Huawei CFO’s arrest is playing out behind the scenes

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Ever since Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou landed at Vancouver’s YVR airport at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 1 to catch a connecting flight to Mexico, Canada has been placed in the middle of a battle between the world’s two greatest powers.

Meng, 46, is at the centre of allegations that Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army, has used a Hong Kong shell company known as Skycom to do business with Iran, defying U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Huawei denies the allegations.

The United States alleges Meng has been avoiding travel to the country ever since she learned of investigations into her business dealings. But when Meng landed in Vancouver and tried to pass Canadian customs on Dec. 1, she was flagged for detention and arrested by the RCMP, as the U.S. had filed proceedings for an extradition request with Canada.

Now, a high-stakes game of politics, espionage and covert surveillance operations is playing out in Vancouver, where Meng, one of China’s most powerful executives, was released on bail after a three-day hearing that was followed by media outlets worldwide.

READ MORE: Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou granted bail, will live in Vancouver under electronic surveillance

Sources in law enforcement and government provided accounts of the unfolding events in British Columbia, a case that experts say has triggered a serious international crisis for Canada.

Already, China has apparently retaliated for Meng’s arrest by detaining two Canadians on national security charges, former Canadian ambassadors to China and CSIS employees say. And China has promised further revenge.

However, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland told reporters Friday that China has drawn no connection between the arrests and the extradition of Meng.

WATCH: Who is Michael Spavor, the second Canadian to go missing in China?






Sources in this story could not be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information they provided.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, while media outlets from around the world prepared to attend a Vancouver court hearing that would decide where Meng should stay during the pending extradition hearing — in one of her two luxurious homes in Vancouver or in jail — some elite RCMP officers already believed they had the answer.

A source told Global News the officers were saying Meng would be released later that day. They were right: Tuesday afternoon, Justice William Ehrcke released Meng on a $10-million security. Later that night, as media cameras crowded around, Meng was escorted in a protective embrace to a black Cadillac Escalade SUV by Scot Filer, a respected former RCMP geographic profiler with business experience in China, and the CEO of Lions Gate Risk Management, the private firm handling Meng’s security while she’s out on bail.

A vehicle is seen outside of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s home in Vancouver on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A source said that while some of Canada’s business leaders have suggested the country was wrong to arrest Meng because of the political and economic consequences as well as the damage China has promised to inflict, it was never an option to let her continue on her travels to Mexico, where she reportedly planned to conduct business for Huawei.


READ MORE:
‘China will take revenge’ if Canada doesn’t free Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou: Global Times editor

Extradition requests from the United States are a standard, daily occurrence to be handled by Department of Justice Canada officials, a law enforcement source familiar with the Meng case and the general process said. As long as the evidence and allegations filed by an extradition treaty partner are in order, a suspect will be detained and enter the hearing process, and there will never be political interference, the source said.


Meng has two Vancouver homes worth $22 million in total. Now that she is living in one of the homes, RCMP officers are conducting covert surveillance operations in the area at night, a source said. This is to make sure that Meng doesn’t attempt to flee Canada and to monitor whether Chinese state agents attempt to contact her, according to a source.

At this time, since Meng has few friends in Vancouver; it is only neighbours attending her home, a source said.

Agents of China’s powerful Ministry of State Security, which protects China’s national interests and conducts intelligence operations in foreign lands, are also believed to be covertly monitoring Meng, a source said. And while crowds of Meng’s supporters protested for her release this week outside a downtown Vancouver court, MSS agents were also believed to be monitoring the events.

“Absolutely, the MSS are here (watching Meng) in Vancouver,” one source said.

Supporters hold signs and a Chinese flag outside B.C. Supreme Court during the third day of a bail hearing for Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The RCMP did not directly answer questions for this story nor deny information provided to Global News.

In a statement, the RCMP said: “Under the terms of a consular agreement between Canada and the People’s Republic of China, the RCMP contacted Chinese consulates in Vancouver and Ottawa within hours of the arrest.”


READ MORE:
Trudeau’s justice minister will make final call on Meng Wanzhou extradition — if court approves it

Stephanie Carvin, a Carleton University professor and former strategic analyst for CSIS who was not involved in tactical operations, said China has “robust” global spy networks, and it would make sense for MSS agents in British Columbia to be conducting operations to protect China’s national interests.

“Huawei is not a normal company in any sense,” Carvin said. “It is wrapped up in Chinese nationality and represents (Chinese President) Xi Jinping’s interests as a national champion company. It doesn’t surprise me the Chinese state is taking a huge interest (in Meng’s case in British Columbia) and retaliating with these two kidnappings of Canadians in China.”

Carvin said that while the RCMP is not usually the lead agency in Canada’s counter-intelligence operations, it would make sense that the RCMP “wants to keep track of who is coming and going from Meng’s residence.”

WATCH: Supporters of Huawei and Meng Wanzhou protest for her release outside a Vancouver court house.






Meanwhile, according to B.C. political sources, there was high-level interest within the provincial government about Meng’s detention conditions.

State media in China have charged that Meng’s arrest was an affront to her dignity and human rights. In an editorial titled “Canada’s treatment of Meng Wanzhou in violation of human rights,” the Global Times claimed that Meng was “immediately handcuffed at the airport and taken to a detention facility…subjected to rude and degrading treatment…put into restraining devices used on felons.”

A source claimed that while Meng’s initial detention and bail proceedings played out, B.C. Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff Geoff Meggs allegedly took an interest in where and how Meng was detained. The source said Meggs reportedly had a call made to the office of B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth “expressing concern that they could not hold Meng in a Canada Border Services facility…(and saying Farnworth) needs to make sure she is extended courtesies.”

Meng was detained before her release at B.C.’s Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge. The CBSA did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the case.

The reported contact from the premier’s office to Farnworth was seen as “odd,” according to a source with knowledge of the case.

WATCH : Ralph Goodale says rumoured ban on Huawei is ‘speculation’






Meggs was not available for an interview. However, in response to requests for comment from Global News, a spokeswoman from the premier’s office said it was “our communications director (that) made an informational request about what had been reported in media about Ms. Meng.”

In an emailed response, a spokeswoman for Farnworth said: “The premier’s communications director contacted the solicitor general’s office to simply gain clarity on what was being reported on this investigation. This is standard procedure. This was a request for information only — there was no request for any change in circumstances.”

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of China’s detention of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, a source with knowledge of Canadian relations with China said that Canada should expect China to carry out threats of revenge. It has been reported that China’s MSS is handling the cases of both Kovrig and Spavor.

“The Chinese don’t just say threats,” a source said. “This would be all planned out from Beijing beforehand. If they say they will do something, they are going to do it.”

Canada is currently considering whether to take further action, such as issuing travel advisories for China, a source said. A B.C. trade mission to China has already been cancelled, and on Friday, federal Tourism Minister Melanie Joly reversed her position from Thursday, deciding to postpone a trip to China.

The situation is so volatile, a source said, that the RCMP is also considering cancelling an international police training mission to China’s mainland that is scheduled for early 2019.

sam.cooper@globalnews.ca

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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