Huawei executive gets bail in case rattling China ties

VANCOUVER, A Canadian court granted bail on Tuesday to a top Chinese telecom company executive wanted in the United States in a case that has rattled relations between China and the North American allies.

The conditional release granted to Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial

officer of Huawei, came hours after the detention of a former Canadian

diplomat in Beijing further stoked tensions.

Meng, who faces a US extradition bid on charges related to alleged

violations of Iran sanctions, was granted Can$10 million (US$7.5 million)

bail, ordered to surrender her passport and will be subjected to electronic

monitoring.

The risk of (Meng's) nonattendance in court can be reduced to an

acceptable level by imposing the bail conditions proposed by her counsel, a

judge in Vancouver said, prompting the courtroom packed with her supporters

to erupt in cheers.

She was expected to be released shortly, and will be allowed to stay at a

luxury home owned by her husband, Liu Xiaozong, in Vancouver.

Her December 1 arrest in Vancouver has shaken China's relations with Canada

and the United States, and raised concerns that it could derail a USChina

trade war truce.

US officials have said the arrest was unrelated to the trade talks, but US

President Donald Trump told Reuters he would certainly intervene in the

case if it can help strike a deal with China.

Huawei is a strategically key company for China's global hightech

ambitions, but some of its services have been blocked in the United States,

Australia, New Zealand and Britain over security concerns.

Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei's founder, is accused of lying to

bankers about the use of a covert subsidiary to sell to Iran in breach of

sanctions. If convicted, she faces more than 30 years in prison.

The extradition process, scheduled to start on February 6, could take

months, even years, if appeals are made in the case.

Her lawyer, David Martin, argued that she was not a flight risk because it

would otherwise embarrass China itself. She had also cited health reasons

for requesting bail.

During a break in the proceedings, Martin said Meng looked forward to a

break to spend with family, read novels and maybe apply to a doctorate

program while the extradition case played out after working hard for 25

years.

Huawei said in a statement it was confident that the courts would reach a

just conclusion in the case and stressed that the company complies with all

laws and sanctions.

Former diplomat detained

While Meng secured her release, the International Crisis Group think thank

said its North East Asia senior adviser, former Canadian diplomat Michael

Kovrig, was detained by Chinese state security in Beijing on Monday night.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voiced concern over the detention.

This has our attention at the very highest level of our government, said

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

China had warned Canada of grave consequences over Meng's arrest as it

demanded her release, although Canada said no link between the two cases had

been established.

But a former Canadian ambassador to Beijing, Guy SaintJacques, said

Kovrig's detention was likely linked to Meng's case.

There is no coincidence in China, SaintJacques told AFP. In this case

it is clear the Chinese government wants to put maximum pressure on the

Canadian government.

'He loves China'

Kovrig, a Mandarin speaker, was a political officer at the embassy from

20142016 who met with dissidents and travelled to China's restive far west

Xinjiang region, SaintJacques said.

He took an unpaid leave from the embassy because he loves China and

wanted to continue to work in the country, the former ambassador said.

It's easy to concoct espionage accusations against someone in China, he

said.

When I learned the news this morning it deeply saddened because Michael

was a good political officer, but he is not a spy at all, SaintJacques

said.

The US State Department called on China to end all forms of arbitrary

detentions.

China's state security and foreign ministries did not immediately respond

to faxed questions.

Brusselsbased ICG said in a statement that it has received no information

about Kovrig since his detention and is concerned about his health and

safety.

Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that

endangered Chinese national security, ICG president Robert Malley told AFP.

He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and

impartial research.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)