China blasts US ‘bullying’ over bid to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou

The United States has accused Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou of misrepresenting the company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite US sanctions. PHOTO: REUTERS
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The United States will proceed with the formal extradition from Canada of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, Canada's ambassador to the United States told the Globe and Mail, as Beijing vowed to respond to Washington's actions.

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) - China on Wednesday (Jan 23) accused the United States of "bullying behaviour" after US authorities confirmed plans to seek the extradition of a top Chinese telecom executive detained in Canada.

The US Justice Department said on Tuesday (Jan 22) that it will pursue the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies who was arrested in Canada in December.

China, which has defended both Huawei and Meng since the latter's arrest, criticised the US extradition request as without "legitimate reason" and "not in conformity with international law".

"This is a type of technological bullying behaviour and everyone can clearly see the real purpose," said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a regular press briefing.

The US "will stop at nothing to suppress Chinese high-tech enterprises and restrain China's legitimate development rights", she added.

The US has accused Meng of misrepresenting the company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite US sanctions. The arrest soured relations between Canada and China, with China subsequently detaining two Canadian citizens and sentencing a third to death.

The US statement came a day after a report that Canada's ambassador to the US said the Canadian government was told that Washington planned to proceed.

"We will continue to pursue the extradition of defendant Ms Meng Wanzhou, and will meet all deadlines set by the US/Canada Extradition Treaty," Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi said in a statement. "We greatly appreciate Canada's continuing support of our mutual efforts to enforce the rule of law."

Huawei chairman Liang Hua told media at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier on Tuesday that the company was following the issue closely and wanted a quick resolution of the case, but had no direct contact with the authorities.

The US must file a formal request for extradition by Jan 30. Once a formal request is received, a Canadian court has 30 days to determine whether there is enough evidence to support extradition and the Canadian minister of justice must issue a formal order.

Canada has not asked the US to abandon its bid to have Ms Meng extradited, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecommunications equipment, faces US-led allegations that its devices present a national security risk. Huawei says such concerns are unfounded.

In an article on Monday, a former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy agency said Canada should ban Huawei from supplying equipment to its 5G networks. China's ambassador has threatened repercussions if Ottawa blocks Huawei.

"We've talked about it with Germany because we have a good relationship with Germany and our European partners generally, and Germany is having some deliberations of its own too," Ms Freeland said on Tuesday, regarding possibly restricting Huawei's access to 5G networks.

The German government is debating whether to follow the US and allies like Australia in restricting Huawei from accessing its next-generation mobile networks, business daily Handelsblatt reported last week.

Huawei will allow foreign officials to visit its labs, Mr Liang said on Tuesday.

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