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Calls growing louder for Meng release

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-12-03 07:33

Canadian supporters press for end to legal saga, citing hit to ties with China

It has been two years since Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, was arrested by Canadian officers at the request of the US government.

FILE PHOTO: Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to attend a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada November 23, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu telephoned Meng on Monday to reiterate that China will continue to urge Canada to respect China's concerns, release her as soon as possible and ensure her safe return to China.

"Justice will be coming," Cong said.

Relations between Canada and China have soured since Meng's detention at Vancouver International Airport on Dec 1, 2018. She has since been living under house arrest in the western Canadian city.

Canadian members of Parliament, along with a group of experts from research institutes and universities, launched a Free Meng Wanzhou Campaign on Nov 24. They noted that Meng's arrest and the subsequent deterioration of Canada-China ties have hurt Canada economically.

Meng, 48, a mother of four and daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is facing extradition on fraud charges that she put British bank HSBC at risk of violating US sanctions against Iran. Meng and Huawei deny the accusations.

Over the past two years, Meng and her defense team have experienced a tumultuous time in court challenging the extradition, claiming the case is political and that it has resulted in what they term double criminality and an abuse of process.

In recent weeks, the court has heard testimony from border security and police officers who detained and arrested Meng. Lawyers for the Huawei financial chief claimed it was a conspiracy between Canadian and US authorities.

At the two-year mark in the case, the Chinese company said in a statement on Monday that it remains confident in Meng's innocence, trusts the Canadian judicial system and will continue to support Meng's pursuit of justice and freedom.

"Ms Meng is staying patient and positive," Alykhan Velshi, vice-president of corporate affairs at Huawei Canada, told media. "It can be trying at times because she knows the charges against her are false. She believes that she's a pawn in a global game of chess."

The telecommunications giant said it acknowledges Canada is under pressure from its southern neighbor to ban Huawei from its involvement in Canada's 5G mobile networks.

Cathy Walker, a former national health and safety director for the Canadian Auto Workers Union, said Canada should resume its independent foreign policy, given that Canada was one of the first Western nations to recognize China diplomatically.

Solidarity matters

Walker, who visited China 15 times between 1974 and 2016, said solidarity between Chinese and Canadian workers is important and has a decadeslong history. Many labor delegations have gone back and forth, especially after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and its integration with the world economy strengthened.

"Unfortunately, these visits to learn about workers and unions in our two countries have ceased since Meng was arrested in 2018," Walker said in a panel discussion at an event for the Free Meng Wanzhou Campaign.

"Friendly relations have become strained because of this harmful, diplomatic issue. This obstacle should be removed.

"Meng's arrest has affected trade, which has adversely affected Canadian workers' jobs. The release of Meng will restore exchanges between Chinese and Canadian labor unions and workers."

Atif Kubursi, professor emeritus of economics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, notes that China is Canada's second-largest trading partner after the United States. The integration of the two economies is so massive and profound that the supply chain crosses the country and reaches far into China, Kubursi said.

A post on the website of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War said: "Ending the extradition process of Meng now, which is completely within the legal authority of the minister of justice, would positively reset Canada-China relations."

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