Meng return 'shows China's strength'

Top News | REUTERS 28 Sep 2021

The release of Huawei chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou shows China's strength and Canada should "draw lessons," according to Beijing.

Meng, 49, landed in Huawei's base of Shenzhen aboard a government-chartered plane on Saturday to much fanfare, ending her near three-year fight against extradition to the United States after reaching a deal with US prosecutors.

That was the same day two Canadians detained by Beijing shortly after Meng's 2018 detention flew home.

Meng's return showed the ability of the government and Chinese Communist Party to protect its citizens, companies and interests, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing.

Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who had been imprisoned on espionage accusations, left China within hours of Meng's release from house arrest.

The cases involving the Canadians were "completely different" from Meng's, which was "political persecution," Hua said, and "Canada should draw lessons and act according to its own interests."

Canada had called the arrests of the two "hostage diplomacy."

The CCP's Global Times said Kovrig and Spavor "confessed their guilt" in state secrets crimes and were released on bail for medical reasons.

Spavor was accused of supplying photos of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in prison in August. Kovrig had been awaiting sentencing.

Meng's release was an opportunity to improve relations with Canada and the United States, but "toxic political rhetoric" could still "poison the atmosphere," the Global Times said.

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Beijing's Renmin University, said: "The relaxation of positions by both sides is a positive but limited development in China-US relations and is less than significant in the big scheme of things.

"There is no indication Washington is going to soften on the trade war. I don't see China immediately relaxing trade restrictions against Canada either."

Meng was allowed to go home after the agreement with US prosecutors to end a bank fraud case against her.

The Global Times said in a commentary that Meng's return was a sign of easing tensions, but it accused "anti-China forces" of creating noise.

It cited US senator Marco Rubio's criticism of her release as an example.

"Whether China-US and China-Canada relations can now take advantage of what is a clear opportunity for a reboot depends on the extent to which Washington and Ottawa are willing to heed the lessons of their rash ploy," said the state-backed China Daily.

On the Canadian side, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said his country's "eyes are wide open" when it comes to normalizing its relationship with Beijing.

He told CBC News the government was now following a fourfold approach to China: "coexist, compete, cooperate and challenge."

Garneau said Canada would compete with China on issues like trade and cooperate on climate change, while challenging it on its treatment of Uygurs, Tibetans and Hong Kong - as Ottawa has done in the past.

He added: "There was no path to a relationship with China as long as the two Michaels were being detained."

Canadian ambassador to Washington Kirsten Hillman denied the United States had made the releases of Kovrig and Spavor a condition for the resolution of the charges against Meng.

"Absolutely not," he said, telling Canadian broadcaster CTV it was "a completely independent process."



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