Three months after her arrest, extradition proceedings for Huawei’s CEO Meng Wanzhou were finally approved by the Canadian government on Friday, March 1st. This has caused an uproar from the Chinese government, who has been vehemently calling for her release.
Ms. Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver last December at the behest of the United States and has remained under house arrest since. The Justice Department charged her with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions in Iran and has repeatedly requested her extradition.
China denounced the decision and is expected to continue its campaign of retaliation against Canada for formally moving forward with the United States’ petition. The relationship between China and Canada has already suffered greatly, as China arrested two Canadians following Ms. Meng’s arrest, alleging potential national security concerns. They also sentenced to death a Canadian man arrested for drug smuggling who had been previously only sentenced to jail time.
Former Canadian diplomat to China and Brock University professor Charles Burton weighed in on the possibilities, stating that China may embargo shipments of Canadian canola or prevent Chinese students from visiting Canada.
Regardless of what happens, it is clear that China has made its dissatisfaction with the current situation well known. They continue to call for Ms. Meng’s release and have previously questioned the freedom of the judiciary in Canada.
Due to the slow speed of appellate proceedings in the Canadian justice system, it may be years before Meng Wanzhou is actually extradited to the United States. The final decision will likely fall to the federal justice minister.
Canada has been placed in a tough position because of this situation. It has to choose between continuing to anger China and facing the repercussions, or angering its neighbor to the south. Some analysts suspect that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be hoping the U.S. and China reach an agreement so they can put this behind them.
Last December, United States President Donald Trump mentioned the possibility of intervening in the case, in exchange for a favorable trade deal from China or if it served national security interests. Ottawa objected, decrying that the extradition process should not be politicized. Last week, President Trump went back on his remarks.
Ottawa rejected the Chinese government’s demands to drop the case, claiming that they cannot interfere with the ongoing judiciary proceedings.
Ms. Meng’s lawyers continue to deny all accusations, claiming that the charges are politically motivated.