Canada’s ambassador to China said he thinks a top Chinese executive has a strong case to avoid extradition to the United States and said he hopes she will be released soon in remarks one of his predecessors called “mind-boggling.”
Ambassador John McCallum told Chinese language media in Markham, Ontario, on Tuesday that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou has “quite good arguments,” including “political involvement by comments from Donald Trump on her case.”
Canada arrested the daughter of Huawei’s founder at the request of the US on Dec 1. Meng is wanted on fraud charges that she misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
Trump said last month he would be willing to abandon the Meng case in pursuit of a trade deal with Beijing. That led some to suggest the case has been politicized and the U.S. is loosening its commitment to the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
“I think she has some strong arguments that she can make before a judge,” said McCallum, who is an economist.
McCallum also listed two other arguments Meng could use before a judge. If she is extradited to the U.S., the ambassador said, “That would not be a happy outcome.” “And that would take years before it happens because she would have the right to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.”
McCallum also said the U.S. could make a deal with China in which it would no longer seek her extradition, and two Canadian detained in China could then be released.
The case has severely damaged Beijing’s relations with Ottawa. China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on Dec 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng.
A Chinese court also sentenced a Canadian to death in a sudden retrial, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier. Huawei has close ties to China’s military and is considered one of the country’s most successful international enterprises, operating in the high-tech sphere where China hopes to establish dominance.
“President Xi Jinping was very angry about this and so others in the Chinese government have taken the lead from him,” McCallum said. “I don’t know exactly why. Maybe it’s because Huawei is a national flagship company of China. It’s not just any company.” David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, called McCallum’s remarks “mind-boggling.”
Mulroney said talking about the merits of the case and saying he hopes Meng should be released is completely inappropriate when the government has been saying that Meng’s extradition is up to judicial authorities.