China warned on Tuesday that it will take action against the United States and Canada if Washington goes ahead with a demand for the extradition of a senior Huawei executive.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the warning after Canada’s ambassador to the US said Washington plans to proceed with a formal request to extradite Huawei chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou.
“China will take action in response to measures taken by the US,” Hua said in a press briefing.
“Everyone has to be held responsible for their own actions. Both the US and Canada should be aware of the seriousness of the case and take steps to rectify the mistake.”
Hua said the case was an abuse of extradition convention, and called on the US to withdraw the request.
Canada’s Globe and Mail reported on Tuesday that the US will file an extradition request on allegations of banking fraud related to violations of US sanctions against Iran.
The report said Canada’s ambassador to the US, David MacNaughton, had met with senior White House and US State Department officials about the Meng case several times.
The ambassador was quoted as saying in the report that he had expressed Canada’s anger and resentment to Washington about the dispute that resulted from Meng’s arrest in December. Beijing has since detained two Canadians and imposed a death penalty on a third Canadian convicted of drugs smuggling charges.
“We do not like that it is our citizens who are being punished,” he was quoted as saying. “[The Americans] are the ones seeking to have the full force of American law brought against [Meng] and yet we are the ones who are paying the price. Our citizens are.”
MacNaughton did not say when the formal US extradition request would be made but the deadline for filing is January 30.
MacNaughton said the Americans appreciated Ottawa’s statement that it would honour the extradition treaty and had told him they would continue to press Chinese authorities for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – the two Canadians detained by Beijing on grounds of “endangering national security”.
Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and also goes by the names Sabrina Meng and Cathy Meng, remains restricted largely to her Vancouver home, following her release on bail. She is accused of defrauding banks to circumvent US sanctions on Iran.
Her next court appearance will be on February 6, to set the date for her extradition hearing.
Once the US submits its formal extradition request officials from the Canadian Department of Justice will have 30 days to decide whether to go ahead.
Meng has the right to appeal against extradition and can apply for a judicial review of the minister’s decision.
Huawei said in a statement that the company was aware of the report and was closely monitoring the situation.
“Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including export control and sanction laws of the UN, US, and EU,” the statement said.
“We have every confidence that the Canadian and US legal systems will reach a just conclusion.”
A US Justice Department spokesman said: “We will comment through our filings”.
The Canadian Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment as it was outside regular business hours.
Julian Ku, a professor at Hofstra University’s law school, said the US was expected to file the formal extradition request by next week’s deadline.
“There is no real benefit to moving more quickly at this point so I am not surprised they are taking their time to get their request right,” Ku said.
“If Meng is eventually extradited to the US, I do expect the Chinese government to continue to criticise the charges against her.
“I wonder, though, whether the Chinese government’s claims that Meng was arrested for ‘no reason’ will fall flat once more and more evidence is revealed against her in the court proceedings.”
Stephen Nagy, a Canadian politics and international studies professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo, said the legal process for Meng’s extradition could take six months or more to examine the allegations levelled against her.
“This will take some time,” he said.
“This will be a challenge in terms of China-Canadian relations because China is demanding a change now, which means I think China will continue to put pressure on Canada, on Canadian citizens like Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, but also people of similar backgrounds.
“It’s likely if Ms Meng is found guilty in the Canadian context that she would be extradited to the United States.”
Shi Yinhong, international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said the Chinese government would continue to push for Meng’s release, regardless of whether the US formally submitted its extradition request or if the Canadian court decided to extradite her.
“At the moment, China has not taken direct measures against the US for Meng’s arrest, but if she is extradited to the US and even charged, they may take direct retaliatory measures or they may not,” he said.
“If they do, the intensity will be lower than the measures reportedly being taken against the Canadians.”
Additional reporting by Reuters and Li Tao