| 22 May 2024, Wednesday |

China welcomes Huawei executive home, but silent on freed Canadians

On Saturday, Chinese state media welcomed Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, back to the “motherland” after more than 1,000 days in custody in Canada on what they termed baseless bank fraud accusations.

They have been mute, however, regarding Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians who were released from Chinese prison in what appears to be a gesture of goodwill.

The Huawei CEO issued a statement while her jet sailed over the North Pole to avoid US airspace, according to Chinese official television CCTV.

As she neared “the hug of the big homeland,” her eyes were “blurring with tears,” Meng added.

“I wouldn’t have the freedom I have now if I didn’t have a strong homeland,” she continued.

Meng was detained in Vancouver in December 2018 after a New York judge issued an arrest warrant, alleging that she attempted to cover up Huawei-linked firms’ plans to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions.

She was finally permitted to leave Canada and travel back to China on Friday, after reaching an agreement with US authorities after more than two years of legal battle.

Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest, were released a few hours later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

State news agency Xinhua formally acknowledged the end of Meng’s house arrest on Saturday, attributing her release to the “unremitting efforts of the Chinese government”.

Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the Global Times tabloid backed by the ruling Communist Party, wrote on Twitter that “international relations have fallen into chaos” as a result of Meng’s “painful three years”.

He added, “No arbitrary detention of Chinese people is allowed.”

However, neither Hu nor other media have mentioned the release of Spavor and Kovrig, and reactions on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform have been few and far between.

The foreign ministry has also declined to comment publicly.

China has previously denied engaging in “hostage diplomacy”, insisting that the arrest and detention of the two Canadians was not tied in any way to the extradition proceedings against Meng.

Spavor was accused of supplying photographs of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in jail in August. Kovrig had still been awaiting sentencing.

  • Reuters