China will act if its citizens are bullied, says Foreign Minister

A top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is granted bail by a Canadian court, 10 days after her arrest in Vancouver at the request of US authorities sparked a diplomatic dispute.
A Huawei supporter outside the British Columbia Supreme Court on Monday where Ms Meng Wanzhou's bail hearing was held. Ms Wang's arrest has stoked public anger in China.
A Huawei supporter outside the British Columbia Supreme Court on Monday where Ms Meng Wanzhou's bail hearing was held. Ms Wang's arrest has stoked public anger in China.PHOTO: REUTERS

China said yesterday that it will not "sit idly by" when its citizens are faced with "any bullying", as the bail hearing of Huawei's top executive, Ms Meng Wanzhou, entered the third day.

State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared in a speech that China "always care about the safety and security of every Chinese compatriot overseas".

"For any bullying that infringes on the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, China will never sit idly by and will spare no effort to safeguard the legitimate rights of our citizens and the justice of the world," he said.

Although Mr Wang did not explicitly refer to Ms Meng's case, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular media briefing that China's position in the high-profile case is "exactly the same" as what Mr Wang has expounded.

Reuters cited two sources as saying yesterday that a former Canadian diplomat has been detained in China, and his employer, the International Crisis Group, said it was seeking his prompt and safe release.

It was not immediately clear if the reported detention of Mr Michael Kovrig is related to Ms Meng's case.

"International Crisis Group is aware of reports that its North East Asia senior adviser, Michael Kovrig, has been detained in China," the think-tank said in a statement cited by Reuters. "We are doing everything possible to secure additional information on Michael's whereabouts as well as his prompt and safe release."

DON'T BULLY US

For any bullying that infringes on the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, China will never sit idly by and will spare no effort to safeguard the legitimate rights of our citizens and the justice of the world.

STATE COUNCILLOR AND FOREIGN MINISTER WANG YI, on how the country will protect its citizens, without explicitly referring to Ms Meng Wanzhou's arrest.

The Canadian embassy in Beijing has declined to comment.

Ms Meng, chief financial officer and daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecoms giant, was arrested on Dec 1 while transiting in Vancouver.

She is accused of being personally involved in tricking banks to violate US sanctions on Iran and faces extradition to the United States.

Her bail hearing was extended as a Canadian judge was not convinced she would not jump bail.

Ms Meng's lawyer has proposed to pledge bail of C$1 million (S$1 million) in cash and C$14 million in equity and properties, as well as offer for her to be watched closely by security officers and global positioning system trackers while on bail.

The judge, however, did not believe her husband, Mr Liu Xiaozong, could act as her surety as he is in Vancouver on a six-month visitor visa.

There is no guarantee he would be present in person for an extradition proceeding that could potentially last for years, said Justice William Ehrcke of the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Public anger over Ms Meng's case continues to brew among the Chinese public, with calls to boycott Canadian goods and ditching iPhones for Huawei mobile phones.

Chinese businessmen, meanwhile, find the arrest disturbing.

"What we worry about is, you can't without reason impede a businessman's legitimate rights, even personal safety," said Mr Zhang Ruimin, chief executive of major home appliance maker Haier, in an interview on Monday. "It has created a shadow in everyone's hearts, and anyone travelling for business will be concerned."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2018, with the headline 'China will act if its citizens are bullied, says Foreign Minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe