SHENZHEN, China (AP) – An executive with Chinese global communications giant Huawei Technologies returned from Canada on Saturday evening following a legal settlement that also saw the release of two Canadians detained by China, potentially ending a quarrel of almost 3 years. Ottawa, Beijing and Washington.
Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder, arrived on a chartered jet provided by the national airline Air China in the southern tech hub of Shenzhen, where Huawei is based, on Saturday evening.
His comeback, met by a group of flag-waving airline workers, was broadcast live on state television, highlighting how Beijing has linked its case to Chinese nationalism and its rise as an economic powerhouse. and global politics.
Wearing a red dress to match the color of the Chinese flag, Meng thanked the ruling Communist Party and its leader Xi Jinping for supporting her for more than 1,000 days under house arrest in Vancouver, where she owns two mansions of several million dollars.
âI have finally returned to the warm embrace of the homeland,â Meng said. “As an ordinary Chinese citizen going through this difficult time, I have always felt the warmth and concern of the party, the nation and the people.”
On the same day, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were freed and flown back to Canada. They were detained shortly after Canada arrested Meng on an extradition request from the United States in December 2018. Many countries have called China’s action a “hostage policy”, while the China has accused Ottawa of arbitrary detention.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugged the two men on the tarmac after they landed in Calgary, Alta. Early Saturday in what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap involving China, the United States and the United States. Canada.
âThese two men went through an incredibly difficult ordeal. Over the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance and grace and we are all inspired by them, âTrudeau said earlier Friday.
Meng, 49, reached a deal with U.S. federal prosecutors that called for the fraud charges against her to be dropped next year. As part of the deal, known as the deferred prosecution agreement, she accepted responsibility for distorting the company’s business relationship in Iran.
Shortly before his return, the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily, declared that the resolution of the case was a “glorious victory for the Chinese people” achieved through “the unremitting efforts of the Chinese government.”
âThe evidence shows that this was purely a case of political persecution of a Chinese citizen with the aim of suppressing China’s technological progress,â the newspaper said. “No force can block China’s progress,” he added.
In an emailed statement, Huawei said it would continue to defend itself against the allegations. The company also sent a statement from Meng’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, claiming that it had “not pleaded guilty and we expect the indictment to be dismissed with prejudice after 14 month”.
The case had caused a huge split in Sino-Canadian relations, with Beijing regularly launching swords against the Canadian legal system and banning some imports from the country. In addition, two Canadians convicted in separate drug cases in China were sentenced to death in 2019. A third, Robert Schellenberg, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, which was brutally increased to the death penalty after the arrest of Meng. It was not immediately clear whether these prisoners could be granted a reprieve.
In Shenzhen, 20-year-old job seeker at Huawei headquarters repeated the government’s view that Meng’s arrest was motivated by politics and rivalry with the United States over technology and global influence .
“I think (this) had to stop the development of Huawei in the world,” said the man, who only gave his last name, Wang, as is often the case among citizens addressing to foreign media in China, where the government closely monitors all speeches. âThis is a very important reason – no one wants other countries to have better technology than them.
Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of network equipment for phone and internet companies and a symbol of China’s progress to become a global technology powerhouse that has received massive support from the government. It has also been the subject of security and law enforcement concerns in the United States, with officials and analysts claiming that it and other Chinese companies flouted international rules and standards and stole documents. technologies and vital personal information.
The case against Meng stems from a January 2019 indictment by the Justice Department under the administration of former President Donald Trump. He accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions. The indictment also accused Meng herself of committing fraud by misleading HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
The indictment came amid a broader Trump administration crackdown on Huawei over concerns from the US government that the company’s products could facilitate Chinese espionage. The administration cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. components and technology, including Google Music and other smartphone services, and subsequently banned vendors around the world from using U.S. technology to produce components for Huawei.
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has maintained a hard line on Huawei and other Chinese companies whose technology is considered to pose national security risks.
Huawei has repeatedly denied claims by the US government and safety concerns with its products.
As part of the deal with Meng, which was leaked in federal court in Brooklyn, the Justice Department agreed to dismiss fraud charges against her in December 2022 – exactly four years after her arrest – on condition that it comply with certain conditions, including not contesting any of the government’s factual allegations. The Justice Department also agreed to drop her request for Meng’s extradition to the United States, which she had vigorously contested, ending a process that prosecutors say could have persisted for months. .
After appearing by video conference for her hearing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Meng made a brief appearance in Vancouver court, where she was released on bail while the two Canadians were held in cells. Chinese prison where the lights were on 24 hours a day.
Outside the courtroom, Meng thanked the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law, expressed his gratitude to the Canadian people and apologized “for the inconvenience.”
âOver the past three years my life has been turned upside down,â she said. âIt was a disruptive time for me as a mother, wife and business owner. But I believe every cloud has a silver lining. It was truly an invaluable experience in my life. I will never forget all the good wishes I received.
A video was also posted online in China of Meng speaking at Vancouver International Airport, saying; âThank you homeland, thank you to the people of the homeland. You have been my biggest pillar of support.
Associated Press editors Eric Tucker in Washington, Rob Gillies in Toronto, Jim Mustian in New York, and Jim Morris in Vancouver, Canada, contributed to this report.