Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou returned to China on Saturday, ending a nearly three-year extradition battle in the United States, on the same day that two Canadians who had been held by Beijing for more than 1,000 days returned home.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengfei, was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement with US prosecutors on Friday to end a bank fraud case against her.
Meng was detained in Vancouver in December 2018 after the US requested her extradition, after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she had tried to cover up attempts by companies linked to Huawei to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions. She has remained in Canada since her arrest in Vancouver.
The extradition row has been a major source of contention between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials suggesting the case should be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate between the two.
Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained by Chinese authorities on espionage charges a few days after Meng’s arrest, were hugged by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the tarmac after they landed in Calgary.
“You’ve shown incredible strength, resilience and perseverance,” Trudeau said in a Twitter post with photos of him welcoming them home. “Know that Canadians across the country will continue to be here for you, just as they have been.”
In the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Meng wore a red patriotic dress as she stepped off the plane to receive well-wishers.
“I’m finally back home,” she was quoted as saying by the Global Times, which is backed by the ruling Communist Party. Waiting in a foreign country was full of suffering. I was speechless the moment my feet touched the Chinese soil.”
Chinese state media have welcomed Ms Meng’s return, but have been silent about Mr Kovrig and Mr Spavor, who were released hours after Meng was released on Friday.
Huawei said in a statement that it “looks forward to seeing Ms. Meng return home safely for her family reunion.” She said she would continue to defend herself against US accusations.
The deal with Meng has opened US President Joe Biden to criticism from Washington hawks in China, who argue that his administration is capitulating to China and one of its major companies amid global technology competition between the two countries.
Some Chinese commentators felt otherwise.
“By agreeing to allow Meng back to China, the Biden administration indicates that it hopes to clear up the mess left by the previous Trump administration,” said Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University.
The agreement with Meng calls for the US Department of Justice to dismiss the fraud charges late next year in exchange for Meng accepting responsibility for misrepresenting her company’s business transactions in Iran.
Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Nicole Buckman, said Ms Meng “has assumed responsibility for her primary role in perpetuating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution.”
China has previously denied its involvement in “hostage diplomacy,” insisting that the arrests and detentions of the two Canadians were not in any way related to the proceedings against Ms. Meng.
Mr. Spavor was accused of providing pictures of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in prison in August. Mr. Kovrig was still awaiting judgment.
Mr. Biden said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week that he had no intention of starting a “new cold war,” while Chinese leader Xi Jinping told world leaders that differences between countries “must be addressed through dialogue and engagement process.” . – Reuters/AFP
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