Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Meng Wanzhou: Trump lifts ban on arrest of Huawei CFO, as Canada drops extradition

Donald Trump issued a 90-day reprieve to Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech company Huawei. Reuters

US President Donald Trump has approved the release of Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies’ CFO, Meng Wanzhou, Canadian and US officials said on Friday, averting a potential escalation of a trade dispute with China.

The 39-year-old woman, accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia on December 1, becoming the highest-profile figure from the $400 billion ($508 billion) trade relationship between the world’s two largest economies to be ensnared in the spat.

Trump delayed a decision on Meng’s fate last week and Meng is now free from house arrest pending the outcome of the extradition case. She will not make a statement to the media at this time, her lawyer told Reuters.

Since signing a landmark trade deal with China earlier this month, Trump has pushed for a swift resolution to the Huawei case.

Reuters: Trump lifts Huawei executive’s arrest ban, could reopen China trade war

Related: Why the Huawei CFO and Trump are linked

The delay has left both countries and markets exposed to the likelihood of a standoff lasting months as they seek to resolve their tensions. The failure to come to an agreement could have had severe repercussions on Canada, China and the global trading system.

Meng is accused of using a bank and a car service to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to court documents. Canadian authorities accuse the Chinese technology executive of bank fraud, and have said she violated immigration laws.

Authorities have not indicated whether they will seek to have Meng extradited to the United States.

Her detention reignited U.S.-China trade tensions, just as it appeared Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had made significant progress after both sides agreed to work toward a trade war truce.

Trump ordered the charges on March 6, but he made no reference to them in his inaugural remarks after his first summit with Xi on March 27.

Beijing maintained that Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was a Chinese citizen, not a Canadian, and had an extradition treaty obligation to respond to a U.S. extradition request.

China has previously demanded Meng’s release, but Trump, who is also fond of self-promotion, has repeatedly said she is a Canadian, and made frequent references to the case in his public comments.

If Canada has an extradition request for Meng, the United States has three months to file a brief and another 90 days to submit written arguments. The hearings are expected to last roughly a month, and Meng could potentially spend several months waiting for a decision, analysts said.

Bloomberg News reported that Meng, who was in Vancouver attending a business conference and was initially blocked from leaving the country while her case was reviewed, was expected to arrive in New York on Friday night.

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