The United States started a trade war with China. The Justice Department requested Canadian authorities to arrest Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China’s telecom giant Huawei, on allegations that she had violated sanctions against Iran by committing financial fraud.
China hasn’t taken Meng’s arrest very well. It viewed Meng’s arrest as a politically driven “kidnapping” aimed at curbing China’s technological ambition and forcing China to make trade concessions. Beijing feels it has lost face internationally and in front of its domestic, nationalistic audience. Therefore, Beijing has been in revenge mode. However, its main target so far has been not the United States, but Canada.
Since Meng’s arrest, China’s foreign minister has summoned the Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, multiple times, to lodge a “strong protest” and tell him Meng’s arrest caused “serious damage to Sino-Canada relations.” Beijing demanded the immediate release of Meng, or Canada would face “grave consequences” for Meng’s arrest. The same Chinese foreign ministry also summoned the U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, a day after meeting the Canadian ambassador, to protest Meng’s arrest as being “unreasonable.” In diplomatic language, the U.S. ambassador was treated with kid gloves.
The Canadian government has tried very hard to explain to Beijing that Meng’s arrest was not politically driven and its timing, which took place on the same day as the President Trump and Chinese President Xi Xinping’s meeting at the G20 in Argentina, was pure coincidence. The Justice Department launched a criminal probe into Huawei’s dealings in Iran in April 2017. The arrest warrant for Meng was issued in August by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and Meng was charged with “conspiracy to defraud multiple international institutions.” To U.S. authorities, arresting Meng in Canada was a natural choice, because Meng stopped traveling to the United States in 2017, but she does travel to Canada regularly as a legal resident there. . .
Last week, Beijing arrested two Canadians on charges of “endangering national security.” One is Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and now a senior adviser with the International Crisis Group (ICG). According to ICG’s website, Kovrig “conducts research and provides analysis on foreign affairs and global security issues in North East Asia, particularly on China, Japan and the Korean peninsula.” China declared that ICG is not a legally registered non-governmental organization (NGO) in China. Thus, Kovrig might have also violated China’s notorious foreign NGO law, which gives Beijing the ability to prevent international organizations it doesn’t like, such as human rights organizations, from operating legally in China. (Read more from “If China Can Ever Bully the United States Like It Is Canada, We’re in Serious Trouble” HERE)