Posts Tagged ‘Justin Trudeau’

Canada asks China clemency for convicted drug trafficker

January 16, 2019

Canada urged Beijing on Tuesday to grant clemency to a Canadian sentenced to death for drug trafficking, after his sentence reignited a diplomatic dispute that began last month.

Ottawa has warned its citizens about the risk of “arbitrary enforcement” of laws in China following a court’s sentencing of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, to death on Monday, increasing a previous 15-year prison term.

Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg (C) is pictured during the retrial at which he was sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg (C) is pictured during the retrial at which he was sentenced to death for drug trafficking HO/AFP

The sentence came during a clash between Ottawa and Beijing over Canada’s arrest in December of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of telecom giant Huawei, on a US extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

“We have already spoken with China’s ambassador to Canada and requested clemency” for Schellenberg, Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Sainte-Hyacinthe, Quebec.

Earlier, Beijing said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made “irresponsible remarks” for saying China chose to “arbitrarily apply” death penalties.

Freeland recalled Canada’s long-standing opposition to capital punishment.

“We believe it is inhumane and inappropriate, and wherever the death penalty is considered with regard to a Canadian we speak out against it,” she said.

In a move observers see as retaliation over the Huawei case, Chinese authorities detained two other Canadian citizens — a former diplomat and a business consultant — on suspicion of endangering national security.

The timing and swiftness of Schellenberg’s sentence, and the inclusion of new evidence, raised suspicion among observers.

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said China was “playing hostage politics.”

In response to Canada’s travel advisory on China, Beijing issued a similar response, urging its nationals to “travel cautiously.”

China executes one or two foreigners every year — nearly all for drug offences, according to John Kamm, director of the US-based Dui Hua Foundation rights group.



Trump weighs canceling NAFTA to force hand of Democrats on trade

December 28, 2018

President Trump and his advisers are weighing whether to cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement to force through his revised trade deal, a strong-arm tactic that would present Congress — and resistant Democrats — with the stark choice of assent or disarray.

Two administration sources who asked for anonymity to speak freely with the press said that the idea has been discussed within the White House but that they did not think that Trump has reached a final decision to withdraw from NAFTA.

“As crazy as it sounds, you’ve got to have some kind of catalyst to get things to move,” said one of the White House staffers, emphasizing that administration staff would prefer to negotiate over Trump’s deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA, without first removing the safety net of NAFTA.

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President Donald Trump, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, participate in the signing ceremony for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA

Former senior administration officials and trade groups view Trump removing the U.S. from the nearly 25 year-old trade agreement early next year as an increasing likelihood.

“It could be that he withdraws [from NAFTA] before [USMCA ratification] even reaches Congress,” said Marc Short, former White House director of legislative affairs. “I think there’s a high probability of that, yes.”

The discussions about canceling NAFTA follow Trump’s previous statement that he intends to do it. In extemporaneous remarks to reporters on Air Force One en route back from Argentina earlier this month, Trump said that NAFTA has “been a disaster for the United States” and that he would “get rid of it.”

The logic of withdrawing from NAFTA before the USMCA would be to pressure Congress to approve Trump’s trade deal and any laws needed to comply with it. By formally withdrawing from NAFTA, Trump would set a hard deadline of six months for Congress to approve the USMCA or face having tariffs reintroduced on substantial portions of the approximately $1.3 trillion worth of trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

“Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA, which worked very well,” Trump said.

Trump did not provide a specific timeline to reporters in that interview. White House sources were unsure of when exactly the administration would send specific bills and the USMCA itself to Congress. But White House officials view 2019 as the timeline to wrap the trade deal, fearing Democrats could drag it out otherwise once the presidential campaign officially starts in 2020.

Canceling NAFTA would set up a showdown similar in political dynamics to the current partial government shutdown, but with international supply chains for U.S. companies and the health of the stock markets in the balance. On the other hand, implementing USMCA would provide Trump a policy win that he could tout as fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail.

“We are very confident that Congress will approve USMCA,” said Emily Davis, a spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative, in a statement provided by the White House press office. “From the beginning, Ambassador Lighthizer has worked closely with Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate on the renegotiation of this agreement.”

Trump may already feel he has the upper hand in the negotiation, and has shown a willingness in his shutdown fight to push the envelope to pursue his other major campaign objective, namely completing a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“Personally I could see the case for it because it puts it on the dual track for Congress to choose between USMCA … or pre-NAFTA,” said Stephen Pavlick, a former deputy assistant secretary at the Trump Treasury Department. “I don’t think he sees the Democrats as having much leverage here. And candidly I think they see that too.”

“Do [Democrats] really want to be responsible for blowing up NAFTA?” Pavlick asked.

A NAFTA withdrawal could intensify already tricky politics for Democrats around the USMCA. A number of labor unions oppose free trade agreements, including NAFTA and the USMCA, for fear their members could be displaced by them. Though the USMCA closely follows much of NAFTA’s language, and includes language to increase pay for workers in Mexico, unions — and Democrats closely allied with organized labor — so far don’t see it as enough.

“It doesn’t satisfy anybody in the labor movement, it doesn’t satisfy any Democrats,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told the Washington Examiner. “We have told them for months that they have to have strong labor chapter enforcement and they didn’t.”

One risk for Trump, though, is that Democrats could call his bluff on NAFTA cancellation and refuse to back USMCA even in the absence of NAFTA on the grounds that Trump would own the political and economic fallout.

“I’m not pulling out of NAFTA. I can’t make that judgment,” said Brown, a potential 2020 presidential contender. “If the president’s going to throw a temper tantrum and pull out that’s on him.”

Reverting to the pre-NAFTA situation would damage the economy and the stock markets, imperiling Trump’s goal of growth. A withdrawal from NAFTA without a replacement would restore tariffs that were eliminated in the 1990s, requiring major supply chain reorganizations from companies that have grown accustomed to freer cross-border commerce.

“Any attempt to revoke NAFTA without an operational USMCA would represent a whole new risk that would weigh on investor sentiment like concrete boots,” said Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at Compass Point Research and Trading, in an email. “Investors are so fixated on the Federal Reserve, China, and economic growth that any strategy predicated on revoking NAFTA without its replacement in place would alarm markets and catalyze a whole new leg downward.”

Canada’s Trudeau practices restraint in the face of detentions in China — Liberal Party calls it “hostage taking”

December 20, 2018

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged caution on Wednesday and said he would not be “stomping on a table” after China detained a third Canadian amid a diplomatic dispute over the arrest of a Chinese technology executive.

The detentions of the Canadians – including one disclosed on Wednesday – followed the Dec. 1 arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. [HWT.UL]. The arrest was made at the request of the United States, which is engaged in a trade war with China.

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Trudeau has been under pressure to take a more robust stand on the detentions, but said at a news conference: “Political posturing or political statements aren’t necessarily going to contribute. They might actually hinder Canadians’ release. We’re going to take every situation carefully and seriously.

“Canadians understand that even though political posturing might be satisfactory in the short term to make yourself … feel like you’re stomping on a table and doing something significant, it may not directly contribute to the outcome we all want, which is for these Canadians to come home safely.”

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scratches his forehead as he listens to a question during an end of session news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS VIA APADRIAN WYLD

Trudeau said he was asking China for more information on the detentions. No details have been given on the latest, but Trudeau said it was “a very separate case” from last week when former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were detained amid the diplomatic quarrel triggered by Meng’s arrest.

The National Post newspaper said the latest detainee was a Canadian woman who was teaching English in China and was held because of “visa complications.”

Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of telecoms network equipment and second-biggest smartphone seller. The United States has been looking since at least 2016 into whether Huawei shipped U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws, Reuters reported in April.

The Huawei Case Just Got (More) Political

Meng Wanzhou

The Canadian government has said several times it saw no explicit link between the arrest of Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, and the detentions of Kovrig and Spavor. But Beijing-based Western diplomats and former Canadian diplomats have said they believed the detentions were a “tit-for-tat” reprisal by China.

Bob Rae, Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar and a former Liberal Party leader, tweeted on Wednesday that “there are no coincidences” and said the detentions looked “too much like hostage taking.”

An official at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said the embassy had no information to release on the issue.

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Meng is accused by the United States of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions. She was released on bail in Vancouver, where she owns two homes, while waiting to learn if she will be extradited to the United States. She is due in court on Feb. 6.

U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters last week he might intervene in the case if it would serve national security interests or help close a trade deal with China.

The comments upset Canada, which warned the United States against politicizing extradition cases.

Trudeau said a decision on whether to use Huawei equipment in Canada’s 5G mobile network should be made by experts and not influenced by politics.


A source with direct knowledge of the situation said senior officials at the Canadian Foreign Ministry had held many meetings about the detainees but that a formal task force had yet to be created.

“At this point, Canada is trying to buy time by stressing it has a rules-based order and an independent judiciary,” said the source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

A second source said Canada was concerned that the detainees were in the hands of the powerful security authorities.

“Even if there were voices of reason in the Chinese system saying: ‘Are you crazy? The Canadian government cannot order a judge to release Ms. Meng,’ the security voices are going to trump them,” the source said.

Philip Calvert, a former diplomat in China and now a research fellow at the University of Victoria, said at least the first two detentions were indicative of “the way China often engages internationally in situations like this.”

“The people making the decisions in Beijing really think when push comes to shove, they can put pressure on Canada to override the system,” he said.

Flavio Volpe, president of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said on Wednesday he had spoken with a few Chinese automakers that are now delaying a decision to set up production facilities in Canada. The automakers, which Volpe declined to name, had been weighing whether to sell cars built in Canada to the North American market.

The last time Canadians were detained in China for security reasons was in 2014 when Kevin and Julia Garratt, who ran a coffee shop in northeastern China, were held near the border with North Korea. She was released and left the country, while her husband was charged with spying and stealing state secrets before being released and deported two years later.

The arrest of the Garratts came shortly after a Chinese businessman was picked up on a U.S. warrant in Canada.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard, Philip Wen and Christian Shepherd in Beijing and Allison Martell and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Alistair Bell, James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney


Five Eyes spy chiefs warned Trudeau twice about Huawei national-security risk

December 17, 2018

Spy chiefs from the Five Eyes intelligence network briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on two occasions this year about the national-security risk from Chinese high-tech giant Huawei − meetings that took place months before Canada’s arrest of a top Huawei executive severely strained relations with Beijing.

Sources say Mr. Trudeau met the spy directors at a Five Eyes meeting in mid-July in Nova Scotia and at secret intelligence talks on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in London in April, where Huawei and its ties to the Chinese government dominated discussion.

The Globe and Mail

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Justin Trudeau

The Five Eyes network is made up of Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, which co-operate to combat espionage, terrorism and global crime.

During the discussions in Halifax and London, sources said the spy chiefs stressed that their countries cannot become dependent upon Huawei’s 5G technology because they view the Shenzen-based company as beholden to the Chinese state. Under Chinese law, the country’s companies must work with China’s intelligence agencies if requested.

Senior federal officials, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, would not discuss the Five Eyes deliberations on Huawei.

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“CSIS will not comment on the nature or substance of meetings held with its Five Eyes partners. Canada’s relationship with these partners remains strong and is focused on keeping Canada safe from a variety of threats,” CSIS chief information officer Tahera Mufti said in a statement.

Mr. Trudeau is facing a difficult decision on whether to join the majority of his Five Eyes allies and bar Huawei equipment from being used in next-generation 5G mobile networks.

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China is already upset with Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. law-enforcement officials. Beijing has detained two Canadians – entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig − in what appears to be tit-for-tat reprisals.

China maintains that the arrest of Ms. Meng is a premeditated attempt by Canada and the United States to undermine Huawei, whose founder is Ms. Meng’s father.

Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Beijing may retaliate against Canada if Ottawa bars Huawei from the country’s 5G networks.

The United States was the first Five Eyes country to block Huawei but the Chinese leadership is wary of reprisals against American interests, he said.

“China has a tendency to go after the junior partner instead of attacking the big guy who is the source of the problem,” he said. It’s not always easy to measure reprisals because it would entail missed opportunities and failed ventures that may not always be explicitly earmarked by China as retaliation.

Mr. Trudeau said his cabinet will accept the recommendations of national-security officials who are currently conducting a cybersecurity review of of Huawei. A decision is expected early in the New Year.

“The determination of the threat [Huawei] represents is something we entrust to our professionals in our intelligence and security agencies and that is very much who we work with to determine how best to protect Canadians,” Mr. Trudeau told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday. “We will make those decisions based on the recommendations of our security agencies, not based on politics.”

Huawei has denied that it acts for the Chinese state, and its Canadian vice-president, Scott Bradley, said the company has been working “openly and transparently” with the Canadian government and domestic telecoms for a decade to satisfy national-security concerns. He has noted that Huawei does not bid on Canadian government telecommunications contracts.

The Australia-based Sydney Morning Herald reported Friday that the Halifax meeting led to a Five Eyes decision to launch an unprecedented campaign to block Huawei from supplying equipment for next-generation 5G wireless technology.

The campaign has been led by U.S. national-security officials who have briefed allies and telecom executives, warning that Huawei is too closely connected to the Chinese state and that the company’s network equipment may contain back doors that could open the countries up to cyberespionage.

The global lobbying effort appears to be paying off among many of Canada’s allies.

In August, Australia announced that it would join the U.S. and bar Huawei equipment from their nascent 5G network and, in late November, New Zealand blocked the first request from one of its wireless carriers to install the Chinese firm’s equipment on a coming 5G network.

On Wednesday, Japan’s three major telecom giants decided to exclude Huawei’s gear in their 5G networks while the country plans to ban the Chinese conglomerate from bidding on government contracts.

France’s wireless carrier Orange announced on Friday that it would not hire the Chinese telecom giant to build its 5G network and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom – Europe’s largest telecommunication company – said it is reviewing its relationship with Huawei.

Orange CEO Stéphane Richard told reporters in Paris that the security concerns about Huawei are legitimate.

“I absolutely understand that all our countries and the French authorities are preoccupied [with Huawei]. We are too,” he said. Deutsche told Reuters in a statement: “Deutsche Telekom takes the global discussion about the security network equipment from Chinese vendors very seriously.”

A week ago, one of Britain’s major telecoms, BT Group, said it was tearing out Huawei equipment from its network and would not buy the company’s 5G gear – a move that came after Alex Younger, the head of Britain’s secret service, known as MI6, questioned whether his country should be in business with Huawei.

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The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) UK

South Korea’s largest telecom, SK Telecom, has also announced that it will not allow Huawei to be a preferred bidder for 5G technology.

The prospect of Canada barring Huawei from this country’s 5G mobile network threatens to disrupt purchasing plans for Canadian wireless carriers.

The Globe and Mail reported last week, citing industry sources, that it would cost Bell and Telus more than $1-billion to rip out and replace Huawei equipment. Rogers Communications is partnering with Huawei’s Swedish rival, Ericsson, on 5G technology.

Federal lobbying-registry records show that lobbyists for Bell have held more than 35 meetings with Canadian government officials, including Mr. Trudeau, in the last half of 2018. The registry also indicates that over the same period, Telus lobbyists met more than 25 times with Canadian officials, including in the Prime Minister’s Office and in the departments of Innovation and Finance.

Spokespeople for Bell and Telus did not immediately return requests for comment on whether these meetings were set up to discuss the future of Huawei equipment. As major carriers, both companies have a multitude of reasons to talk to Ottawa.


See also:

Doors are slamming shut for Huawei around the world


HSBC’s involvement in Huawei case could still complicate trade talks with China even though the bank isn’t being investigated


Attention digital engineers: HSBC wants you to consider a career in banking


(This will likely add to the perception of China as a nation that does not obey the rule of law, many in the U.S. say)


 — (Wang Yi hints that human rights laws are being violated)


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China Detains Former Canadian Diplomat

December 12, 2018

A former Canadian diplomat has been detained in China, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, less than a week after Canada announced the arrest of a senior Chinese tech executive, angering the government in Beijing.

The detention could inflame tensions between China and Canada, which are already sparring over the arrest in Vancouver in early December of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, a Chinese tech conglomerate.

The former diplomat, Michael Kovrig, has worked since early 2017 for the International Crisis Group, an independent nongovernmental organization that tries to defuse international conflict.

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Michael Kovrig

Previously he worked for the Canadian foreign service, where he had risen to be vice consul at the embassy in Beijing. He is a well-known specialist on East Asia and Chinese foreign policy.

“We are aware of the situation of the Canadian detained in China,” Mr. Trudeau told reporters on his way into the House of Commons in Ottawa.

“We have been in direct contact with the Chinese diplomats and representatives,” he said. “We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously and we are, of course, providing consular assistance to the family.”

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had no immediate comment.

Two friends of Mr. Kovrig’s in Beijing said they had been unable to reach him by phone or email. Both requested that their names not be used, fearing unwelcome attention from the Chinese authorities. Calls to Mr. Kovrig’s two cellphone numbers went unanswered.

Mr. Kovrig’s last activity on his Twitter account, a retweeted comment, appeared on Sunday.

“I am not willing to speculate as to the reason why the Chinese authorities chose to do what they did. I am willing to state categorically what is not the reason for Michael’s detention. He did not engage in illegal activities. He was not endangering Chinese national security,” said Rob Malley, president and chief executive of the International Crisis Group. “He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: objective and impartial research and policy recommendations to end deadly conflict.”

It is unclear whether Mr. Kovrig’s disappearance is related to his work for the crisis group. He specialized in sober analyses of North Korea, tensions over the South China Sea, China’s involvement in international peacekeeping and other diplomatic issues.

Read the rest:


See also The WSJ:

China Detains Michael Kovrig, a Former Canadian Diplomat

Will Arrest Of Huawei Exec Meng Wanzhou Derail U.S.-China Trade Talks — Trump Says “No”

December 9, 2018

China has ratcheted up the pressure on Canada to release the detained executive of Huawei Technologies over the weekend by threatening “grave consequences”

China critical of US side’s unilateral hegemonic behaviour — “This is a dilemma, and it is difficult to predict what will happen.”

Donald Trump Upbeat On China Talks; Aides Downplay Huawei Arrest Friction

Donald Trump Upbeat On China Talks; Aides Downplay Huawei Arrest Friction

“China talks are going very well,” Donald Trump said on Twitter, without providing any details (File)

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump sounded an optimistic note about trade negotiations with China as two of his top economic advisers downplayed friction from the arrest of a senior executive of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies.

“China talks are going very well,” Trump said on Twitter, without providing any details.

Major companies have expressed concerns about how the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities would affect U.S.-China relations or that it would cause a potential backlash against American firms operating in China.

Photographer: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Meng, 46, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, appeared in a Vancouver court for a bail hearing as she awaits possible extradition to the United States in the investigation of whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.

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Photo: Xi Jinping and Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told CNBC he did not believe Meng’s arrest would “spill over” into the talks with China aimed at increasing Beijing’s purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities, lowering Chinese tariffs and making sweeping changes to China’s policies on intellectual property and technology transfers.

Kudlow said the investigation of whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran was on a “separate track” from the trade talks and was a matter of national security and U.S. law.

“You can’t break the law. You break the American law, you break the Canadian law, you’ve got to pay the consequences of that,” Kudlow said of the Huawei case. “That was the case with other companies, and will continue to be the case. These are issues of national security.”

Continued concerns over U.S.-China trade relations caused stocks to sell off on Friday, with technology shares leading the decline. The Nasdaq Composite fell 2.4 percent, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 2.1 percent and the S&P 500 index down 1.9 percent in afternoon trade.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN that the U.S.-China trade talks and the Huawei arrest “are two separate events,” calling the timing of Meng’s arrest a coincidence.

Navarro said the arrest was the result of “the bad actions of Huawei,” adding there was a “frightening” risk that the Chinese government could use the company’s products for spying.

“The timing was unusual, but the actions were legitimate.”

Asked if the United States would walk away from trade talks if U.S.-China differences were not resolved in 90 days, Navaro said: “It’s not a question of walking away. It’s a question of moving forward on the strategy, which is to simply raise the tariffs” on Chinese goods.

Kudlow expressed optimism that the United States and China will make substantial progress during the 90-day period allocated for talks, ending around March 1.

“I think there will be a lot of success in the next 90 days; President has indicated, that if there’s good solid movement and there’s good action, he might – he might – be willing to extend the 90 days,” Kudlow told CNBC.

He reiterated that the Trump administration was expecting immediate movement from China on purchases of agricultural commodities and energy and added that he expected Chinese autos tariffs to be reduced. He said it was a positive sign that China was willing to discuss core issues related to intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and computer hacking of U.S. companies.

However, Kudlow said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who will lead the American side in the talks, will be looking to ensure that any agreements can be fully enforced and monitored to ensure follow-through by Beijing.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Shipenkov)

The chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou of China’s Huawei Technologies


Beijing escalates dispute over arrest of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou by lodging diplomatic protest

  • China official Xinhua news agency attacks Canadian PM Justin Trudeau for not telling Beijing in advance and ‘letting this nasty thing happen’
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2018, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2018, 1:12pm
China has ratcheted up the pressure on Canada to release the detained executive of Huawei Technologies over the weekend by threatening “grave consequences” and accusing Canada of “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people”, escalating the case into one of the worst diplomatic rows between Beijing and Ottawa.

Chinese foreign vice-minister Le Yucheng on Saturday summoned Canadian ambassador John McCallum to lodge a “strong protest” against the arrest of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver and urged Ottawa to release Meng immediately, according to a brief foreign ministry statement.

Meng, the chief financial officer at Huawei and a daughter of the Chinese telecom giant’s founder, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 and faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran in defiance of sanctions.

The arrest of Meng in Canada, which took place on the same night that Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump dined together in Buenos Aires, has infuriated Beijing.

The official Xinhua news agency published an editorial on Sunday morning condemning the arrest as an “extremely nasty” act that had caused “serious damage to Sino-Canada relations”.

“According to the words of the Canadian leader, he had known of the action in advance,” Xinhua said, referring to the fact that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – whom it did not did name directly – had a few days’ notice of the arrest.

“But he didn’t notify the Chinese side. Instead, he let this kind of nasty thing to happen and assisted the US side’s unilateral hegemonic behaviour – this has hurt the feeling of Chinese people,” Xinhua added.

Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

The last time that Beijing called Canada of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people was more than a decade earlier in 2007 when the then prime minister Stephen Harper hosted the Dalai Lama.

People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, published a similarly strongly worded statement, condemning Canada for arresting Meng and threatening to take action against Ottawa if Meng is not released.

“The Canadian side must realise clearly that there’s no vagueness between justice and arbitrariness,” the People’s Daily editorial reads.

“The Canadian side must correct its wrongs and immediately stop its infringement of the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizen to give the Chinese people a right answer so that it can avoid paying a dear price.”

The joint condemnation by China’s foreign ministry, Xinhua and the People’s Daily against Ottawa is an unusual step, reflecting how seriously Beijing is taking the case and its determination to set Meng free.

While China did not specify what action it would take to inflict pains on Canada, the harsh wording suggests that it has plans to retaliate.

These could range from the freezing of diplomatic exchanges to the suspension of trade and would be likely to be set in motion if Meng is extradited to the US.

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, told Reuters on Friday that there will probably be “a deep freeze with the Chinese in high-level visits and exchanges”.

“The ability to talk about free trade will be put in the ice box for a while. But we’re going to have to live with that. That’s the price of dealing with a country like China,” Mulroney was quoted as saying.

Shi Yinhong, director of Renmin University’s Centre for American Studies and an adviser to the State Council, said that the Meng incident put China in a bind between the need to show it can protect its business people abroad without spooking other advanced industrial nations with a strong response against Canada.

“China is concerned that in the future more of its important people abroad will be seen as a threat, and that their safety will become an issue.”

“On the other hand, especially in the context of the comprehensive tension between Beijing and Washington, China has an interest to maintain and improve relations with other advanced industrial countries.

“If China takes a very strong revenge against Canada, it will hurt these relations. This is a dilemma, and it is difficult to predict what will happen.”

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Saturday there is “nothing to add beyond what the minister said yesterday”.

Freeland told reporters on Friday that the relationship with China was important and valued, and Canada’s ambassador in Beijing has assured the Chinese that consular access will be provided to Meng.

A court hearing over whether Meng should be bailed will continue on Monday.

Additional reporting by Reuters


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No Stomach To Face Down China: White House, Trudeau seek to distance themselves from Huawei move

December 7, 2018

“Huawei is a Communist Party spy agency thinly veiled as a telecom company.”

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President Donald Trump did not know about plans to arrest a top executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in Canada, two U.S. officials said on Thursday, in an apparent attempt to stop the incident from impeding crucial trade talks with Beijing.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, the 46-year-old daughter of the company’s founder, was detained in Canada on Dec. 1, the same day Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping dined together at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

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Xi Jinping, China’s president, right, with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei (the father of Meng Wanzhou)

A White House official told Reuters Trump did not know about a U.S. request for her extradition from Canada before he met Xi and agreed to a 90-day truce in the brewing trade war.

Meng’s arrest during a stopover in Vancouver, announced by the Canadian authorities on Wednesday, pummeled stock markets already nervous about tensions between the world’s two largest economies on fears the move could derail the planned trade talks.

The arrest was made at Washington’s request as part of a U.S. investigation of an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, according to people familiar with the probe.

Another U.S. official told Reuters that while it was a Justice Department matter and not orchestrated in advance by the White House, the case could send a message that Washington is serious about what it sees as Beijing’s violations of international trade norms.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the arrest could complicate efforts to reach a broader U.S.-China trade deal but would not necessarily damage the process.

Meng’s detention also raised concerns about potential retaliation from Beijing in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to distance himself from the arrest.

“The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference … we were advised by them with a few days’ notice that this was in the works,” Trudeau told reporters in Montreal in televised remarks.


The United States has been looking since at least 2016 into whether Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran, Reuters reported in April. More recently, the probe has included the company’s use of HSBC Holdings Plc to make illegal transactions involving Iran, people familiar with the investigation said.

In 2012, HSBC paid $1.92 billion and entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn for violating U.S. sanctions and money-laundering laws.

An HSBC spokesperson declined to comment on Thursday. HSBC is not under investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

After news of the arrest, Huawei said it has been provided little information of the charges against Meng, adding that it was “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng.”

Huawei is under intense scrutiny from Washington and other governments over its ties to the Chinese government, driven by concerns it could be used for spying. It has been locked out of U.S. and some other markets for telecom gear, but has repeatedly insisted Beijing has no influence over it.

On Friday, a person with direct knowledge and a person briefed on the matter told Reuters that Japan plans to ban government purchases of equipment from China’s Huawei and ZTE Corp .

The Yomiuri newspaper, which first reported the news, said the Japanese government was expected to revise its internal rules on procurement as early as Monday to prevent intelligence leaks and cyber attacks.

ZTE pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran in efforts to curb Tehran’s missile and nuclear programs.

Before the arrest on Wednesday, Britain’s BT Group said it was removing Huawei’s equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the Chinese company in central parts of the next network.

Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse welcomed news of the arrest and said the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker posed a security threat.

Cruz tweeted: “Huawei is a Communist Party spy agency thinly veiled as a telecom company.”

Huawei has said it complies with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and other regulations.

(This story has been refiled to change keyword for media, no changes to text)

Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld and Matt Spetalnick in Washington, Julie Gordon in Vancouver and Alison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Tomasz Janowski; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall



Why Huawei arrest deepens conflict between US and China

December 7, 2018

“Who is going to be the world leader essentially.”

The dramatic arrest of a Chinese telecommunications executive has driven home why it will be so hard for the Trump administration to resolve its deepening conflict with China.

Image result for Huawei , Signage, photos

In the short run, the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer heightened skepticism about the trade truce that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping reached last weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On Thursday, US stock markets tumbled on fears that the 90-day cease-fire won’t last, before regaining most of their losses by the close of trading.

But the case of an executive for a Chinese company that’s been a subject of US national security concerns carries echoes well beyond tariffs or market access. Washington and Beijing are locked in a clash over which of the world’s two largest economies will command economic and political dominance for decades to come.

In this undated photo released by Huawei, Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is seen in a portrait photo. (AP)

“It’s a much broader issue than just a trade dispute,” said Amanda DeBusk, chair of the international trade practice at Dechert LLP. “It pulls in: Who is going to be the world leader essentially.”

The Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, was detained by Canadian authorities in Vancouver as she was changing flights Saturday — the same day that Trump and Xi met at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina and produced a cease-fire in their trade war. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, reported that Meng is suspected of trying to evade US sanctions on Iran. She faces extradition to the United States, and a bail hearing was set for Friday.

The British bank HSBC is cooperating with US authorities in its investigation, people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Huawei, the world’s biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and Internet companies, has long been seen as a front for spying by the Chinese military or security services, whose cyber-spies are widely acknowledged as highly skilled. A US National Security Agency cybersecurity adviser, Rob Joyce, last month accused Beijing of violating a 2015 agreement with the US to halt electronic theft of intellectual property.

Other nations are increasingly being forced to choose between Chinese and US suppliers for next-generation “5G” wireless technology. Washington has been pushing other countries not to buy the equipment from Huawei, arguing that the company may be working stealthily for Beijing’s spymasters.

Beijing protested Meng’s arrest but signaled that it doesn’t want to disrupt progress toward settling its trade dispute with the Trump administration. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said China is confident it can reach a deal during the 90 days that Trump agreed to suspend a scheduled increase in US import taxes on $200 billion worth of Chinese products.

US national security adviser John Bolton told NPR that he knew of the pending arrest in advance. He noted that there has been much concern about the suspicion that Chinese firms like Huawei use stolen US intellectual property.

In the view of the United States and many outside analysts, China has embarked on an aggressive drive to overtake America’s dominance in technology and global economic leadership. According to analysts, China has deployed predatory tactics, from forcing American and other foreign companies to hand over trade secrets in exchange for access to the Chinese market to engaging in cyber-theft.

Washington also regards Beijing’s ambitious long-term development plan, “Made in China 2025,” as a scheme to dominate such fields as robotics and electric vehicles by unfairly subsidizing Chinese companies and discriminating against foreign competitors.

In addition to Trump’s tariffs, the administration is tightening regulations on high-tech exports to China. It’s also making it harder for Chinese firms to invest in US companies or to buy American technology in such cutting-edge areas as robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Earlier this year, the United States nearly drove Huawei’s biggest Chinese rival, ZTE Corp., out of business for selling equipment to North Korea and Iran in violation of US sanctions. But Trump issued a reprieve, possibly in part because US tech companies are major suppliers of the Chinese giant and would also have been scorched. ZTE got off with paying a $1 billion fine, changing its board and management and agreeing to let American regulators monitor its operations.

The US and Chinese tech industries depend on each other so much for components that “it is very hard to decouple the two without punishing US companies, without shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Adam Segal, cyberspace analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dean Garfield, president of the US Information Technology Industry Council trade group, said innovation by US companies often depends utterly on product development and testing by Chinese partners, not to mention component suppliers.

British Telecom said this week that it would stop using Huawei equipment in its 5G network, the BBC reported, and US lawmakers have lobbied Canada’s prime minister to freeze out the Chinese supplier. New Zealand and Australia already have.  Other, less wealthy nations are concerned less about spying and more about low prices, which play to Huawei’s advantage.

Both Huawei and ZTE have not only been barred from use by US government agencies and contractors; they have also been mostly locked out of the American market. A 2012 report by the House Intelligence Committee report urged US businesses to avoid their products and called for blocking all mergers or acquisitions involving them.

And nearly a year ago, AT&T pulled out of a deal to sell Huawei smartphones.

“There is ample evidence to suggest that no major Chinese company is independent of the Chinese government and Communist Party — and Huawei, which China’s government and military tout as a ‘national champion’ is no exception,” Sens. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote in October to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. They urged him to keep Huawei off Canada’s next-generation network.

Priscilla Moriuchi, a former East Asia specialist at National Security Agency now with the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, said both ZTE and Huawei are wedded to China’s military and political leadership.

“The threat from these companies lies in their access to critical Internet backbone infrastructure,” she said.

“No matter what happens in the short term, (the arrest of Huawei’s CFO) is a symptom of a long-term technology clash,” said Derek Scissors, a China specialist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “We’re not going to deal that away in 90 days.”

Scissors said he doubts that China will change its tech policies. Beijing must develop innovative technologies to keep its economy growing as its labor force ages and it confronts a huge stockpile of debt. Yet its political and economic system — which promotes inefficient state-owned companies at the expense of nimbler private ones — discourages innovation.
“I don’t see a way out of this,” Scissors said.

Likewise, Rod Hunter, an international economic official in President George W. Bush’s White House and a partner at law firm Baker McKenzie, said, “I’m skeptical that the Chinese are going to want to say ‘uncle.’ ”


US and Chinese officials are “trying to tackle a problem that is going to take years, maybe a decade, to resolve.”

Associated Press


Canada defends Huawei arrest after markets wobble

December 7, 2018

Canada on Thursday defended its arrest of an executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei on a US extradition request after markets wobbled on fears of fresh friction between Washington and Beijing.

With China demanding the release of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said officers who arrested her Saturday as she was changing planes in Vancouver had acted on their own.

AFP / Johannes EISELE
Huawei’s affordable smartphones have made strong inroads in the developing world, but the company has faced repeated setbacks in major Western economies over security concerns

“I can assure everyone that we are a country (with) an independent judiciary,” Trudeau told a tech conference in Montreal. “And they took this decision without any political involvement or interference.”

Citing a court-ordered publication ban sought by Meng, Trudeau declined to comment further on the case, which according to a US senator was brought over Huawei’s activities in Iran.

The arrest took place on the same day that the US and Chinese presidents, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, had met for a long-awaited summit in Buenos Aires and spoken of easing an intensifying trade row.

Markets were chaotic over news of the arrest. On Wall Street, the broad-based S&P Index closed down 0.31 percent after making up steep early losses.

“The concept of getting a quick resolution is fading,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR, said of the trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

China said that Meng — the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army — had violated no laws in either Canada or the United States.

“We have made solemn representations to Canada and the US, demanding that both parties immediately clarify the reasons for the detention, and immediately release the detainee to protect the person’s legal rights,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in Beijing.

Huawei also said in a statement that it was compliant with “all applicable laws and regulations where it operates.”

Huawei’s affordable smartphones have made strong inroads in the developing world, but the company has faced repeated setbacks in major Western economies over security concerns.

– White House foreknowledge –

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, acknowledged that he knew that Canada was planning to arrest Meng on Saturday just as all eyes were on the summit in Buenos Aires.

“I knew in advance. This is something that we get from the Justice Department,” Bolton told National Public Radio.

He said he was not sure whether Trump — who had trumpeted his summit with Xi as “amazing and productive” as he flew back to Washington — was also aware.

“These kinds of things happen with some frequency. We certainly don’t inform the president on every one of them,” he said of the arrest.

Bolton also declined to discuss specifics over Meng’s arrest, saying it was a matter for law enforcement.

“But we’ve had enormous concerns for years,” Bolton said, “about the practice of Chinese firms to use stolen American intellectual property, to engage in forced technology transfers, and to be used as arms of the Chinese government’s objectives in terms of information technology in particular.”

“So not respecting this particular arrest, but Huawei is one company we’ve been concerned about,” he said.

Senator Ben Sasse earlier linked Meng’s arrest to US sanctions on Iran, which Trump is trying to squeeze economically after withdrawing from a denuclearization deal.

CNN, quoting an unnamed official, said that the United States saw the arrest as providing leverage in trade talks.

But White House trade advisor Peter Navarro denied Meng’s detention was linked to the US-China dialogue.

“It’s pretty simple,” he told CNN. “The two issues are totally separate — the trade negotiations and this arrest.

“The Justice Department acts on an independent track. The coincidence of the arrest happening in the same time frame was just that.”

– Canada fears retaliation –

Canada was bracing for a fallout in relations with China, which has been increasingly willing to punish countries it sees as countering its interests.

Canada’s cyber security chief said the country could face retaliatory cyber attacks.

“I think one of the key things is that we always have to be resilient no matter what the possible trigger could be,” Scott Jones, director of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, told a press conference.

Meng is scheduled to appear in court on Friday for a bail hearing.

Trump and Xi, who were in Argentina for a summit of the Group of 20 major economies, had agreed to set up negotiations to discuss US concerns over China’s trade barriers.

In turn, Trump agreed to hold off on raising tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods starting in the new year.



Erdogan attacks Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi response

December 2, 2018

Turkish president says Prince Mohammed gave ‘unbelievable’ response to journalist’s death Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman avoided diplomatic isolation at the G20 leaders’ meeting, despite the controversy over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

© Kevin Lamarque, REUTERS | Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attend the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018.


By Laura Pitel in Ankara

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has attacked Saudi Arabia’s crown prince over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, accusing him of giving an “unbelievable” response when challenged about the journalist’s death at the meeting of G20 leaders. Speaking at a press conference following the two-day summit in Buenos Aires, the Turkish president said that he was saddened that the killing of the prominent Saudi journalist had not been part of official discussions at the gathering. But he said that Canadian president Justin Trudeau had asked the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, about the murder.

“The crown prince gave a response that I couldn’t believe,” Mr Erdogan said. “The unbelievable thing is this. He said that, without firm proof it is not possible to accuse Saudi Arabia.” The Turkish president has led the charge against Riyadh over the murder of the Washington Post columnist, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul at the start of October.

Although Mr Erdogan has not explicitly accused Prince Mohammed of ordering the killing, Turkish officials privately make clear that they hold him responsible. Ankara has shared evidence, including tape recordings, with a number of allies including the US. This weekend’s summit was the Saudi crown prince’s first international appearance since the eruption of the scandal, which has triggered the biggest crisis for the leadership of the Gulf kingdom since the 9/11 attacks.

Saudi crown prince comes out of the cold at G20 The meeting threatened to be awkward for the country’s de facto ruler. In the midst of the summit, a report by the Wall Street Journal claimed that a highly classified CIA assessment said that the US intelligence agency had a “medium-to-high confidence” that the 33-year-old had “personally targeted” the journalist and had “probably ordered his death.”

In the end, however, the heir to the Saudi throne faced relatively few difficulties. He met briefly with Donald Trump, the US president, who has faced criticism for promising to maintain a “steadfast” relationship with Riyadh despite the killing. A White House official said that the two men exchanged “pleasantries”.

The crown prince also met with Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, France’s president Emmanuel Macron and the UK prime minister Theresa May. The prince was also captured on film laughing and smiling with Vladimir Putin, the Russia president. Mr Erdogan, however, did not meet with Prince Mohammed.

The Turkish president said that Turkey had no intention of harming the royal family but added that Ankara would continue to pursue the truth in the case. “We have never seen this as a political issue,” he said. “We want to make sure that the murder is revealed in all its aspects and that those responsible are protected.”