Posted Sep 24, 2021, 9:57 PMUpdated on Sep 27, 2021 at 8:50 am
End clap for a diplomatic-judicial saga that had lasted for three years. Huawei chief financial officer and vice president Meng Wanzhou returned to Beijing on Saturday in favor of a deal with the United States, while two Canadians were released from prison in China. The daughter of the Chinese telecom giant’s founder, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been released after years of detention in what has been called “hostage diplomacy”.
These “past three years, my life has been turned upside down,” Meng, who has always denied the charges and pleaded “not guilty” to the press, told reporters on Friday. The daughter of the boss of Huawei then boarded a plane for Shenzhen, regaining freedom after three years of house arrest in Vancouver and escaping extradition to the United States which warns to judge her for bank fraud.
Concurrent release of two Canadians
As for the “two Michaels”, as they are called in their country, it was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who announced to the press the end of their detention on Friday. “You have shown incredible strength, resilience and perseverance,” commented Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a message on Twitter accompanied by a photo in which he welcomes his two compatriots to the airport.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor had been arrested just days after Meng Wanzhou on what Ottawa called “fabricated” espionage charges. For its part, Beijing described the case of Meng Wanzhou as a “purely political incident”. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken quickly issued the decision by Chinese authorities to release the two Canadians after their “arbitrary” detention.
“One less thorn”
The departure of Meng Wanzhou for China is the realization of a spectacular agreement made public Friday by a New York court between the Ministry of Justice and the Chinese telecom juggernaut. At a public hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court, Justice Department representative David Kessler offered to “postpone” until December 1, 2022 the “prosecutions” initiated since late 2018 against Meng Wanzhou, in particular for “ conspiracy” to commit “bank fraud”.
American justice accused the number 2 of the Chinese telecom giant of having lied to an executive of the HSBC bank during a meeting in Hong Kong in 2013, about the links between the Chinese group and a subsidiary called Skycom which sold equipment to Iran, exposing the facility to US sanctions. According to the Ministry of Justice, Meng Wanzhou admitted that at the time she had made “false statements” and “hidden the truth” from the HSBC executive about “Huawei’s activities in Iran”.
If the court settlement is not challenged or terminated by December 1, 2022, the lawsuits will be permanently dropped, according to Washington. While ties between Canada and China ‘probably won’t return to what they were before’, says former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques, resolving this case means ‘one less thorn’ in bilateral relations.
In China, the fact that Meng Wanzhou acknowledged the facts has been erased from the internet. The state-run Xinhua news agency said she was returning to China “thanks to the unremitting efforts of the Chinese government”, while the editor of the state-run “Global Times” newspaper said she was “released after pleaded not guilty”. State media did not mention the release of the two Canadians.