EYESHENZHEN  /   Opinion

Canada should release Meng Wanzhou and avoid playing political games of the U.S.

Writer: Han Ximin  |  Editor: Jane Chen  |  From: EyeShenzhen 

One year on from Meng Wanzhou's arrest, more details about the incident have come to light. Over the last year or more, the U.S. has used its national power to launch a systematic campaign against Huawei. Huawei chief financial officer Meng’s arrest is just one part of this campaign. 

Canada finds itself caught up in the U.S.'s political games and now faces a dilemma. The latest evidence proves Canadian police committed an abuse of process while arresting Meng. This will further tarnish the reputation of Canada as a country that respects the rule of law.

On Dec. 9, the Chinese Embassy in Canada posted on its website, "The Chinese side once again urges Canada to immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to China." Some analysts have stated that it is in Canada's own interests to show that it respects the rule of law and promptly releases Meng, and that doing so can help get relations between Canada and China back on track.

Meng’s arrest a political move by the U.S.

In one of its latest articles titled "Inside the final hours that led to the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou," The Globe and Mail revealed that "When Washington needed Canada's help to apprehend a top Huawei executive, officials in the White House, Congress and diplomatic corps were informed of what would happen hours before politicians in Ottawa." According to the article, the view inside the Canadian government is that John Bolton, the former White House national security adviser, was the driving force behind Meng's arrest.

Since Meng's arrest, many media reports have highlighted that rather than being an isolated incident, this is one of many actions taken as part of the U.S. government's systematic campaign against Huawei. The political motivations behind these actions are clear for all to see. John Tamny, a commentator from Bloomberg, has said the U.S. government persecuted Huawei because the company is too successful. Simon Tisdall, columnist for The Guardian, said geopolitical and economic rivalry between China and the United States — not a breach of Trump's Iran sanctions — is what's really behind Meng's arrest. The Nikkei Asian Review, citing a Washington-based lobbyist, reported that the United States wants to push Huawei out of the 5G market because of the nation's own late deployment of 5G.

Abuse weakens the legitimacy of Canadian law enforcement 

Even if we view the Meng incident as being purely legal, the action taken by Canadian law enforcement is still unjustified. The latest evidence indicates that Canadian law enforcement agencies committed several serious violations when planning and executing the arrest.

First, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) deliberately violated the court order requesting the "immediate arrest" of Meng that was set out in the warrant of provisional arrest issued on Nov. 30, 2018. According to the work notes of RCMP officer Janice Vander Graaf, the RCMP and the CBSA knowingly altered the arrest plan. Instead of getting on the plane and immediately arresting Meng, the RCMP postponed the arrest and allowed the CBSA to unlawfully detain her. During this detainment, the CSBA conducted a covert criminal investigation under the guise of a customs inspection before the RCMP executed the arrest.

Second, according to the work notes of RCMP officer Gurvinder Dhaliwal, the CBSA unlawfully seized Meng's phones and forced her to provide passwords while abusing border-check procedures and powers to conduct the unlawful investigation. Its purpose was to share the information collected from the phones with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Third, the Canadian border agency strategically omitted sensitive key facts regarding the arrest of Meng when making work notes, attempting to cover up a series of unlawful actions. For example, the agency did not disclose the fact that the agents unlawfully asked Meng questions about criminal charges in the United States. According to The Star, if Canadian law enforcement agencies acted inappropriately and the court nonetheless allows extradition proceedings to go ahead, it sends a dangerous signal to police that it's not a big deal to infringe upon individual rights.

Meng’s arrest is a violation of the U.S.-Canada extradition treaty and a core principle of the Canadian Extradition Act — double criminality. The United States' charges against Meng are based on violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. However, Canada does not impose financial sanctions on Iran. Therefore, the charges against Meng do not constitute a crime in Canada, and the U.S. government's extradition request is unjustified.

Canada's interest is to respect the rule of law

Throughout the Meng incident, Canada has been caught up in the political games of its neighbor. This has seriously damaged Canada's own interests. Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu has said on multiple occasions that this incident has seriously strained Canada-China relations, and that responsibility for this does not rest with China. Statistics show that Canada's agricultural exports to China have fallen sharply. In addition, Canada's reputation as a country that respects the rule of law has been seriously damaged. Analysts believe that it is in Canada's own interests to promptly release Meng and ensure her safe return to China, and that this will be a major step toward getting China-Canada relations back on track.