In a significant development, Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou arrived back in China after fighting U.S. extradition for around three years, in yet another sign of weakening global clout of the United States. The move also reflects a change of approach in Washington’s policy of not negotiating with hostage takers.
Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, was allowed to return back to China following an agreement with U.S. prosecutors last Friday, to end a bank fraud case against her.
Just days after Meng’s arrest, Chinese authorities had arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
As part of the exchange, they landed in Canada and were greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after their landing.
China had signaled that the extradition case against Meng had to be dropped to so that the Canadians could return home.
“You’ve shown incredible strength, resilience, and perseverance,” said Trudeau in a Twitter post. “Know that Canadians across the country will continue to be here for you, just as they have been.”
Dressed in a red-coloured dress, Mend greeted well-wishers as she descended from the plane.
“I’m finally back home,” said Meng to reporters from China’s Global Times which has the backing of the ruling Communist Party. “The waiting in a foreign country was full of suffering. I was speechless the moment my feet touched Chinese soil.”
China’s state media was silent on the release of Kovrig and Spavor.
The development underscores mounting criticism from U.S. lawmakers who see the current administration capitulating to China and its economic interests at the cost of potential national security.
Republican senators were swift to condemn Meng’s release and urged the White House to address the U.S. Congress on the issue.
“The release of Ms. Meng raises serious questions about President Biden’s ability and willingness to confront the threat posed by Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party,” said Marco Rubio.
The deal was “a victory for one of the world’s most brutal and cruel regimes,” and would embolden the Communist Party “to use other foreign citizens as bargaining chips because it now knows hostage taking is a successful way to get what it wants,” said Senator Jim Risch.
Background to Meng’s detainment in Canada
In December 2018, Meng was detained in Vancouver following a New York court issuing an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.
Acting U.S. attorney Nicole Boeckmann had said Meng had “taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetuating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution.”
China’s state news agency Xinhua attributed Meng’s release to the “unremitting efforts of the Chinese government”.
The editor of China’s Global Times, Hu Xijin tweeted, “international relations have fallen into chaos” as a result of Meng’s “painful three years” and added, “No arbitrary detention of Chinese people is allowed.”
Both state-backed news agencies did not mention the release of Spavor and Kovrig. Reactions on China’s Weibo social media platform, which is heavily monitored by the state, have been few and far between.
China’s foreign ministry did not comment publicly.