VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The B.C. Supreme Court is going to be the focus of the world’s attention this week, as the extradition hearing for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou gets underway.
Starting Monday, both sides will make their arguments to the court to determine whether Meng’s case is one of “double criminality,” meaning her actions were criminal in both Canada and the U.S. — the country requesting her extradition.
Professor Yves Tiberghien with the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada says this is a case that legal scholars, Beijing, and the whole of China, will be watching very closely.
“This is a case that’s seen as totally unacceptable by the Chinese side — not just the official side but the average [member of the] public — because it’s a case of extraterritorial application of sanctions on Iran by the U.S., when Canada has different sanctions,” he explains. “The average Chinese [person] cannot understand it. So that’s why there’s all that frustration, that anger.”
A ruling on this will ultimately decide whether the Huawei CFO can go home to China, or be sent to the U.S. to face numerous fraud charges.
Meng’s lawyers say Canada has rejected similar U.S. sanction against Iran, and not only permits banks to do business with Iran-based entities, but encourages them to do so.
They have said she should not be extradited because her actions wouldn’t be considered a crime in Canada.
Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December of 2018 at the request of the U.S. government. American prosecutors allege she made misrepresentations to foreign banks, including London-based HSBC, about Huawei’s relationship with its Iran-based affiliate Skycom.
She has denied the allegations and remains free on bail while living in one of her multi-million-dollar homes in Vancouver.
In an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng, Beijing detained two Canadians, ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, in late 2018. They have not had access to lawyers or their families, but have had a number of visits with consular officials.
Tiberghien says this case is definitely going to have a long-term impact on Canada-China relations.
“The relations with Canada and China are basically frozen since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou,” he explains. “There is not much that can move until this is resolved.”
He uses an analogy to try to explain why the arrest has inflamed both the Chinese government and Chinese people.
“Imagine what would happen if Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg was arrested in Cambodia upon request from China. Americans would go nuts. It would be similar, because it’s a very, very high profile executive of the most popular, the most high profile, company in China. For a top-executive to be arrested for something that seems totally not understandable on the Chinese side does provoke massive reaction.”
With files from The Canadian Press and the Associated Press