When Meng Wanzhou’s flight landed in Vancouver on 1 December 2018, he only expected a brief stopover. But almost two years later, the daughter of Huawei’s chief financial officer and founder of the telecom giant is waiting to be prolonged – which has put considerable pressure on relations between Canada and China.
The next hearing in the long-running legal battle over his extradition to the United States is set to begin on Monday.
Stakeholders say the whole process could take up to a decade, with Canada caught up in growing tensions between Washington and Beijing, with a focus on one of China’s top institutions.
At the center of the story is a sixteen-page corporate power point presentation.
Vancouver stopover and an arrest
When his plane landed in Hong Kong, Meng Wanzhu planned to go to a house owned by him in a Canadian city to collect some luggage before catching another flight to Mexico at a corporate meeting.
- Meng Wenzhou: Trapped in a sealed cage
- Huawei’s Meng gives life details on bail in Canada
However, he was interrogated by Canadian border security agents after his phone was confiscated and his luggage was searched.
When it was over, he was officially admitted to Canada. It was at this time that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police removed and arrested him for requesting his extradition to the United States.
The United States has denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning Iran’s intelligence have been made more than once.
A PowerPoint at the center of the case
MessP Meng used PowerPoint in a meeting with the bank HSBC on August 22, 2013, and is seen as the main evidence against him.
In the past few months, Reuters reports have raised questions about whether Hong Kong-based Skycom has violated trade sanctions on Iran.
The issue was whether telecom equipment retailer Skycom was merely a business partner of Huawei – or whether it was a front to cover up its activities in Iran.
The U.S. alleges that at the meeting – one with a PowerPoint presentation – Mess Menz misled HSBC about the true nature of Huawei’s relationship with Skycom and put the bank at risk of violating sanctions against Iran.
His lawyers say the U.S. misled the court, particularly about PowerPoint, by not showing HSBC the original information on the two slides, and not keeping the real nature of the Skycom / Huawei relationship in the dark.
Meng’s lawyers have started a legal battle
The extradition hearing is ongoing, and Ms Meng’s lawyers have launched a multidimensional attack on her at the request of the United States.
The initial attempt to claim the crime for which he has been charged in the United States has failed. The crime in Canada has not failed (although it may be appealed).
This case centers on another challenge to politics.
His lawyers have claimed that US President Donald Trump’s remarks, which indicated he was willing to consider the case as a bargaining chip in trade talks with China, were seen as an abuse of the process.
Another challenge relates to his treatment at Vancouver Airport. His lawyers argued that the process had been abused in the way he was treated.
They are fighting to release a number of specific documents, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, a national intelligence agency, and are seeking to uncover what role US officials may have played in his arrest at this time.
A judge has already rejected requests for certain documents, which may result in an appeal.
The result of all this is a legal process that will keep lawyers busy but is unlikely to be removed quickly.
The priority of Mess Meng’s lawyers is clearly to win them over and bring him back to China as soon as possible. But if it doesn’t show up and they lose one after another, they can take legal action to prevent him from being sent to the United States.
There are many strands in any case that is already highly unusual and there is a possibility of appeal, the best guess from something close to the case is that it could take at least five and 10 years.
Even after the completion of the legal process, the impact of the case has been far-reaching.
The arrest of such a high-profile business figure has sparked outrage in China, and this month the country’s ambassador said Canada had “taken advantage” of America’s “barbaric behavior” and became an “ally” of the United States. .
HSBC has been asked by Chinese media about how much the bank cooperated with the United States in filing a lawsuit that they described as a politically motivated trap.
The bank, which is already caught between the West and China over its position on Hong Kong, has only done what it needs to do legally and has no access to it.
The lawsuit also raises the question of which country can arrest business executives if requested by the United States. It could worry Huawei officials and restrict their travel, and it could also raise concerns for governments that find themselves caught between the United States and China.
And it raises concerns that Western traders and other travelers may find themselves trapped by China for using it as a bargaining chip.
Two Canadians were detained the day after Mes Meng’s arrest. Former diplomats Michael Coverig and Michael Spaver were later charged with espionage.
China has denied any involvement, but the pair’s detention has been widely interpreted as a direct response to M Meng’s arrest.
This month, a group of former Canadian diplomats called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to negotiate for a replacement for MS Meng.
Mr Trudeau had previously criticized “arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals” and said stopping his extradition could further jeopardize Canada.
Canada is wary of shortlisting the legal process and he is also aware that it could jeopardize the pressure of the Trump administration, which is standing in a tough line on China.
Washington seems unlikely at the moment in its fight against Huawei in particular and in a more general multi-offensive fight against China.
Even after the November US presidential election, political dynamics may change over time
At the moment, however, MS Meng’s position in Canada shows no sign of ending soon or any less controversially.
Organizer. Zombie aficionado. Wannabe reader. Passionate writer. Twitter lover. Music scholar. Web expert.