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Hearings To Extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to U.S. Begins in Vancouver

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Nouvelle Solidarité—Le Figaro’s Montreal correspondent Ludovic Hirtzmann reports today on the beginning of the extradition hearing of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, which began yesterday in Vancouver. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018 by Canadian authorities at Vancouver airport over a year ago at the request of the U.S. on charges that she violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The alleged sanctions violation occurred when, during a 2013 presentation to Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC), Meng allegedly deceived HSBC into clearing transactions in Iran through Skycom, a Huawei subsidiary, thus violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. Meng supposedly told HSBC that Skycom was a partner, rather than a subsidiary, which put HSBC at risk of sanctions, according to the New York Times.

The Canadian court must prove “double criminality”—that is, whether what she is accused of constitutes a crime in Canada, which is the only way extradition can be justified. Canada has no sanctions policy against Iran. China’s semi-official Global Times reported Jan. 20 that new documents have surfaced bolstering the defense’s assertion that Meng didn’t deceive HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, as the bank knew about that relationship from some years earlier.

This week could be decisive for the future of Sino-Canadian relations, which have been very tense since Meng’s arrest, reports Hirtzmann. Among informed circles in Canada, nobody understands why Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caved into the U.S. demand for Meng’s arrest. Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien told Canada’s CTV on Dec. 20, 2019: “It’s a trap that was set to us by Trump, and then it was very unfair, because we paid the price for something that Trump wanted us to do.”

Shortly after Meng’s arrest, China arrested two Canadian citizens, accusing them of espionage.

Canada is quite unhappy with this whole situation, reports Le Figaro. Totally dependent on the U.S. for its trade, it had moved to diversify towards China. During the last 10 years, China became Canada’s second largest trading partner, after the U.S. According to the Canadian Institute of Statistics, between 2001 and 2016, trade between both countries went from $11 billion to $64.4 billion.

At one point, Trudeau was even hoping to sign a free trade agreement with China, but the arrest of Meng and the Chinese arrests of the Canadians have resulted in a huge 34% drop in all trade. This situation could last for years, if all recourses are used. Canada has the option of dismissing the hearings, which, according to Hirtzmann, it has the right to do, but risks inceasing tensions with the U.S. [cbi, crr]