Huawei CFO to appear in Canada court as Chinese media slams arrest

Meng Wanzhou. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Vancouver, BC, Canada Dec 07, 2018, 02.20 PM (IST)

A top executive of China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd who is under arrest in Canada is set to appear in a Vancouver court on Friday for a bail hearing as she awaits possible extradition to the United States.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, 46, who is also the daughter of the company founder, was arrested on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States. The arrest, revealed by Canadian authorities late on Wednesday, was part of a US investigation into an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade US sanctions against Iran, people familiar with the probe told.

The news roiled global stock markets on fears the move could escalate a trade war between the United States and China after a truce was agreed on Saturday between President Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Argentina.

Trump did not know about the arrest in advance, two US officials said on Thursday, in an apparent attempt to stop the incident from impeding talks to resolve the trade dispute.

Details of the case against Meng, to be heard in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, remain sparse.

Canada's Justice Department has declined to provide details of the case and Meng has secured a publication ban, which curbs the media's ability to report on the evidence or documents presented in court.

Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday that neither Canada nor the United States had provided China any evidence that Meng had broken any law in those two countries, and reiterated Beijing's demand that she be released.

The bail hearing could be just a preliminary session to set out a schedule, lawyers said.

The Crown counsel is expected to argue that Meng poses a flight risk and should be kept in a detention facility, legal experts said. The onus will be on Meng's lawyer to provide evidence that she will not flee, they added.

Huawei, which has confirmed Meng was arrested, said on Wednesday that "the company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng."

China has demanded Meng's immediate release, and complained neither Canada nor the United States have given a reason for the arrest.

The official China Daily said in an editorial there was still "no telling" on what grounds Meng had been detained and that it seemed to be part of US plans to pressure its allies not to use Huawei goods.

"But one thing that is undoubtedly true and proven is the US is trying to do whatever it can to contain Huawei's expansion in the world simply because the company is the point man for China's competitive technology companies," it said.

"What is badly needed for the development of China-US ties is political trust. Yet Washington, in persuading and pressuring its allies to shun cooperation with Huawei, has helped erode that political trust," the English-language paper said.

Influential tabloid the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily, said the United States was "resorting to a despicable rogue's approach as it cannot stop Huawei's 5G advance in the market".

The United States was abusing "legal procedure to stifle Huawei", it said.

"Despite incomplete information about the incident, the US move obviously goes against the consensus reached between the heads of state of China and the US in Argentina," the paper wrote.

"The incident shows that China faces a complicated competition with the U.S. Beijing needs determination and wisdom to safeguard its own interests," it said.

Story highlights

Trump did not know about the arrest in advance, two US officials said on Thursday, in an apparent attempt to stop the incident from impeding talks to resolve the trade dispute.