US, Canada promise due process for arrested Chinese executive

WASHINGTON, The United States and Canada on Friday promised a fair judicial process for a Chinese executive arrested in Vancouver on a US request, as they appealed to Beijing to free two Canadians held in apparent retaliation.

Foreign ministers and defense chiefs of the neighbors met in the US capital

as Canada increasingly looks like collateral damage in a simmering USChina

trade war, with Beijing at the same time working to ease trade tensions with

Washington.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said authorities were acting

scrupulously in the detention of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer

of telecom behemoth Huawei whom Washington wants extradited for allegedly

violating US sanctions on Iran.

We all agree that the most important thing we can do is uphold the rule of

law, ensure that Ms. Meng's right to due process is respected and that the

current judicial process in Canada remains apolitical, she told a joint news

conference.

Freeland repeatedly said that Canada is a ruleoflaw country that

responded properly to an extradition request.

In Canada, there has been to this point no political interference in this

issue at all, she said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was also respecting

the rule of law each step along the way as it seeks Meng.

China furious

China, however, has said that Canada and the United States overstepped

their authority and that Meng, who was arrested while changing planes in

Vancouver, broke no laws.

Canada's fears of repercussions have turned out to be wellfounded, as

China has since detained two Canadians on suspicion of harm to national

security a phrase often used by Beijing when alleging espionage.

The Canadians are Michael Spavor, a Chinabased consultant who arranges

visits for foreigners including NBA star Dennis Rodman to North Korea,

and Michael Kovrig, a Mandarinspeaking former Canadian diplomat who works

for the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

Canada's foreign ministry said its ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum,

was granted consular access to Kovrig and is pressing for access to Spavor.

Speaking to The Canadian Press, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau predicted that

access would take place shortly.

We are being absolutely clear on standing up for our citizens who have

been detained, trying to figure out why, trying to work with China to

demonstrate that this not acceptable, he told Citytv in Toronto.

ICG stressed that at no point has there been any hint of any wrongdoing

by Kovrig.

Far from being secretive, Michael's work was open for all to see, Chinese

officials first and foremost, ICG president and CEO Robert Malley said in a

statement, referring to the detainee's past and present roles.

The real danger to China comes from Michael's arbitrary arrest and

detention for these will have a chilling effect on people wanting to visit

and engage with the country.

Pompeo denounced the two men's unlawful detention as unacceptable and

demanded their return.

Freeland called the release of the two men a huge priority for Canada.

Meng, who stands accused of misleading US investors on Huawei's operations

in Iran, is out on bail of Can$10 million (US$7.5 million).

Her arrest comes as Pompeo leads a campaign to squeeze Iran's economy to

curtail the Islamic republic's influence across the Middle East.

He has vowed to press all countries, friend or foe, to cut off business

with Iran.

China trade rift eases

Even as China is seen as punishing Canada, it has appeared to pull its

punches with the United States and moved ahead on a trade truce negotiated

with President Donald Trump.

Beijing said Friday it would suspend extra tariffs on USmade cars and auto

parts for three months from January 1.

The move follows an accord between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping

reached on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on December 1,

the very day Meng was arrested to hold off on new tariffs set to take

effect in the new year and instead start negotiations on trade concerns.

Trump hailed the auto move, saying Beijing was taking action because

tariffs he unveiled in recent months had caused China's economy to slow.

China wants to make a big and very comprehensive deal. It could happen,

and rather soon! he tweeted.

Canada has also been on the receiving end of Trump's unorthodox approach on

trade.

In June, Trump publicly criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as very

dishonest and weak for his statements on tariffs at a summit.

Freeland did not shy away from renewing Canada's concerns. She said US

tariffs imposed on Canadian aluminum and steel, which Washington has

justified on national security grounds, were unjust and illegal.

This is one of the situations you get in when the two largest economies in

the world, China and the United States, start picking a fight with each

other, Prime Minister Trudeau said.

The escalating trade war between them is going to have all sorts of

unintended consequences for Canada, potentially the entire global economy.

We're very worried about that.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)