Canadian, Chinese return home in executive prisoner swap

China, the US and Canada complete a high-stakes prisoner swap with two Canadians organized by China and happily homecoming for an executive of the Chinese global communications giant Huawei Accused of technology fraud, potentially setting off a 3-year feud that engulfed the three countries.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugs diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor on the tarmac after landing in Calgary, Alberta, early Saturday. The men were detained in China in December 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies and the daughter of the company’s founder, on a US extradition request.

Several countries have dubbed China’s actions “hostage politics”, while China has described the allegations against Huawei and Meng as a politically motivated attempt to stifle China’s economic and technological development.

After the Canadian government plane landed in Toronto and was greeted by his wife and sister, the slim Kovrig said, “It’s wonderful to be back home in Canada and I’m so grateful to everyone who brought us both back home.” Worked hard.” .

Meng’s return to China was later shown live on state TV on Saturday, with Beijing linking his case with Chinese nationalism and his rise as a global economic and political power.

Meng, dressed in a red dress that matches the color of the Chinese flag, thanked the ruling Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping, for more than 1,000 days under house arrest in Vancouver, where she owns a two-million dollar mansion.

“I have finally returned to the warm embrace of the motherland,” Meng said. “As a normal Chinese citizen going through this difficult time, I have always felt the warmth and concern of the party, the nation and the people.”

The chain of events involving global powers brought an abrupt end to the legal and geopolitical strife that has plagued relations between Washington, Beijing and Ottawa. The three-way deal enabled China and Canada to bring home their own detained citizens, while the US wrapped up a criminal case against Meng, who has been embroiled in an extradition battle for months.

“These two men have gone through an incredibly difficult ordeal. For the past 1,000 days, he has shown strength, perseverance and grace and we are all inspired by that,” Trudeau said of the two Canadians.

Meng has been out on bail since his arrest, living in a multimillion-dollar mansion in Vancouver, while two Canadians have been confined for more than 1,000 days in Chinese prison cells with 24-hour lights.

The first activity occurred on Friday afternoon when 49-year-old Meng reached a settlement with federal prosecutors that called for the fraud charges against him to be dismissed next year and allowed to return to China immediately. As part of the deal, known as the Deferred Prosecution Agreement, he accepted responsibility for misrepresenting the company’s business deals in Iran.

The deal comes as President Joe Biden and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping sought to ease signs of public tension – even as the world’s two major economies remain as diverse as cyber security, climate change, human rights and trade and tariffs. are on the issues. Biden said in an address before the UN General Assembly earlier this week that he had no intention of starting a “new Cold War”, while Xi told world leaders that disputes between countries should be resolved “through dialogue and cooperation”. needs to be handled.”

“The US government stands with the international community in welcoming the decision of the People’s Republic of China authorities to release Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig after more than two and a half years of arbitrary detention. We are delighted that they are returning to Canada,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

As part of the deal with Meng, the Justice Department agreed to drop the fraud charges against her in December 2022 _ just four years after her arrest _ provided she complies with certain conditions, including government approval. Including not opposing any factual allegation. The Justice Department also agreed to drop its request to extradite Meng to the United States, which it strongly challenged.

After appearing via videoconference for his hearing in New York, Meng made a brief court appearance in Vancouver.

Outside the courtroom, Meng thanked the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law, expressed gratitude to the Canadian people and apologized “for the inconvenience caused to me”.

“My life has been turned upside down in the last three years,” she said. “It was a disruptive time for me as a mother, wife and a company executive. But I believe that every cloud has a silver lining. It was truly an invaluable experience in my life. I will never forget all the wishes I have received.”

Shortly afterwards, Meng flew on an Air China flight to Shenzhen, China, where Huawei is headquartered.

Huawei is the largest global supplier of network gear for phone and Internet companies. It has been a symbol of China’s progress in becoming a technological world power and has been the subject of US security and law enforcement concerns. Some analysts say Chinese companies have violated international rules and norms and plagiarized technology.

The case against Meng stems from a January 2019 indictment by the Trump administration Justice Department that accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions. The indictment also accused Meng of committing fraud by misleading HSBC Bank about the company’s business deals in Iran.

The indictment comes amid the Trump administration’s sweeping crackdown against Huawei over US government concerns that the company’s products could facilitate Chinese espionage. Administration cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, including Googleof music and other smartphone services, and subsequently barred vendors around the world from using American technology to produce components for Huawei.

Meanwhile, the Biden White House has put a tough line on Huawei and other Chinese corporations whose technology is believed to pose a national security risk. Huawei has repeatedly denied the US government’s allegations and security concerns about its products.

Kovrig’s former boss, Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada’s former ambassador to China, said he was glad the two Canadians were home.

“Clearly, the Chinese were so eager to get Meng back that they dismissed all claims that the two Michaels were arrested for good reason. They must admit that their reputations were seriously tarnished.” It is,” said Saint-Jacques. “There is murmuring in the Communist Party of China, people are saying, ‘Which direction are we going, Xi Jinping? We are creating so many enemies. Why are we enemies of countries like Canada and Australia?'”

Saint-Jacques said he thinks China will think twice before using “hostage diplomacy” again.


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