Extradition battle heats up

World | AGENCIES 21 Jan 2020

China repeated its call yesterday for Canada to release detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou as soon as possible, hours before the executive's scheduled first extradition hearing in Vancouver.

"The resolve of the Chinese government to protect Chinese citizens' proper legal rights is firm and unwavering," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in Beijing. He called Meng's case a "serious political matter".

Geng urged Canada to "correct mistakes with concrete actions, release Ms Meng Wanzhou and let her return safely as soon as possible."

Meng, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on December 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, where she is charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading the bank HSBC about Huawei's business in Iran.

Meng, 47, has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition to the US.

Huawei represents China's progress in becoming a technological power and has been a subject of US security concerns for years. Beijing views Meng's case as an attempt to contain the country's rise.

"This is one of the top priorities for the Chinese government," said Jiang Wenran, a senior fellow at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.

"They've been very mad. They will be watching this very closely."

Meng, who is free on bail and living in one of the two Vancouver mansions she owns, denies the allegations against her.

Her defense team says comments by President Donald Trump suggest the case against her is politically motivated.

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