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What the Canadian government did wrong in Huawei CFO's case?
2020-12-02 04:30

It's been two years since Meng Wanzhou was arbitrarily taken into custody in Canada on December 1, 2018. While her early and safe return to China has been very much on the minds of her fellow Chinese, there have also been growing calls for Meng's release in Canada from fair-minded members of parliament, former ministers, retired diplomats, judges and lawyers - all adding their voices to the plea for justice and reason.

It's time we were reminded once again of what Canada got wrong in the case of Meng Wanzhou.

First, Canada has been trying via every means possible to evade the real question. Canada claims it was merely acting upon a request from the US and fulfilling its treaty obligations, and that it had no political agenda. The Canadian leader even said that he absolutely did not regret arresting Meng. But a growing body of evidence points to the political nature of the case. From the US side, President Donald Trump admitted that he would intervene in the case if it could help the US to reach a trade deal with China; and former National Security Adviser John Bolton talked about Trump's intention to use Meng as a bargaining chip in the trade talks.

To wield the big stick of "long-arm jurisdiction" against foreign citizens and entities through its network of allies is an old trick of the US'. What happened to Meng is just another example. As a matter of fact, the US had asked many countries to arrest and extradite Meng under bilateral extradition treaties, but none of them agreed except Canada.

The Canadian government needs to think long and hard about why it was the only one to take on the hot potato? Anyone with common sense could tell that the US is simply using Canada to advance its own political agenda. The Canadian government, by readily doing the US' dirty work, is serving the interests of anti-China elements in the US at the expense of the interests of Canadians.

Second, Canada has been playing dumb and trying to cover up its wrongdoing. Recently, several Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officers involved in Meng's arrest testified in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Their testimonies are riddled with contradictions. A retired RCMP officer suspected of illegally sharing the passwords of Meng's electronic devices with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) refused to testify in court and couldn't be reached.

The RCMP even illegally obtained the security code to Meng's house through the CBSA. All of these things point to serious flaws and abuse of process in Meng's arrest by the Canadian law enforcement agencies, which constitute a gross violation of Meng's legitimate rights and interests.

Instead of giving the Canadian public the full picture in a spirit of fairness and justice, the Canadian government has been doing everything it can to cover up the truth. Despite last December's court ruling to disclose more evidence in the case, the Canadian government and prosecutors had redacted dozens of documents in an apparent attempt to hide something.

In October, Canada's Department of Justice, claiming 'privileges' around confidentiality, refused to provide Meng's lawyers with such key documents as e-mails between the Canadian and American governments. A self-styled defender of the 'rule of law', Canada has repeatedly refused to release more facts about Meng's case. Unless there is monkey business involved, what's the point of such an elaborate cover-up?

Third, Canada has been misleading public opinion and shifting blame. Canadian politicians have been spreading stories of China's "arbitrary detention" of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, as an example of China's "coercive diplomacy". The true story, however, is that Chinese judicial authorities long ago released details of the investigation and prosecution of the two men in question.

The facts couldn't be clearer: Kovrig and Spavor were arrested, prosecuted and tried in accordance with the law on suspicion of crimes endangering China's national security. This is essentially different from Meng's case. There is nothing wrong with the Chinese government's handling of the two Canadians, as it followed legal procedures in dealing with criminal activities endangering China's national security, which is entirely within the scope of a country's sovereignty.

By contrast, what Canada did to Meng is the very definition of arbitrary detention of a foreign citizen. Even to this day, Canadian politicians are refusing to face the root cause of strained China-Canada relations. Theirs is a typical approach of misleading public opinion and applying double standards.

As Meng has been trapped in a foreign land for more than 700 days and nights, China-Canada relations have been stuck in a quagmire for quite some time now. We once again call on the Canadian government to seriously reflect on what it did wrong, to demonstrate political courage and resolve, and to release Meng as soon as possible. This is an obstacle to China-Canada relations that must be removed. Canada should not have any illusion that a new US administration would make things different for the case. If Canada does not correct its wrongdoing, it will be something always remembered by China's 1.4 billion people.

The author is an observer for international issues. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn.

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