Canadian court moves closer to extradition of Chinese Huawei executive to the United States

The relationship between Communist China and the free world, particularly the United States, is disintegrating so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. Yesterday, there was a big development in the ongoing dispute over Chinese technology giant Huawei. Back in 2018, the CFO of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada at the request of the U.S. government. The U.S. is seeking to extradite her so she can face charges here for inducing a group of banks to violate sanctions the U.S. placed on Iran. Wednesday a court in Canada ruled that Wanzhou’s extradition met the standard of “double criminality.”

In her decision, Heather Holmes, associate chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, found that prosecutors had cleared a fundamental hurdle for Ms. Meng’s extradition under Canadian law — demonstrating that the conduct she is accused of in the United States, if proved, also constitutes a crime in Canada.

The legal concept is known as “double criminality.”…

In their indictment against Ms. Meng, now 48, United States prosecutors charged Ms. Meng with fraudulently deceiving four banks into making transactions to help Huawei evade United States sanctions against Iran…

Prosecutors said Ms. Meng lied to representatives of the bank HSBC in 2013 about Huawei’s relationship with Skycom, a company that would clear transactions between Huawei and HSBC in Iran, by saying Skycom was a partner, rather than a subsidiary, of Huawei…

Ms. Meng, the eldest daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, one of China’s most prominent businessmen, has denied the allegations.

Obviously the possibility that the daughter of the founder of one of China’s leading companies could wind up in an American court and maybe even in an American jail is not sitting well with Xi Jinping and Chinese nationalists. The Global Times, which is a state-controlled newspaper, published a piece this week warning of repercussions if the case went against Meng Wanzhou:

The Canadian judiciary system’s handling of the case will come under scrutiny from Chinese netizens, which is why Canada must be careful not to politicize it. While we have no intention of interfering in the decision of the Canadian court, we hope the Canadian side is aware of the importance of a fair ruling for Chinese people.

A decision that panders to the Trump administration would only lead to a rise in netizen resentment, which would affect bilateral relations between China and Canada.

All of this comes on top of a decision two weeks ago by the Trump administration to limit the sales of custom microchips to Huawei. China responded to that by threatening to place major U.S. companies including Apple, Qualcomm, and Cisco on an “unreliable entity list.” The Global Times published a story saying “China will launch rounds of endless investigations on those firms, just like swords hanging over their head.”

In a sense, all of this is just a small part of an ongoing battle over the degree to which the free world is willing to tolerate China’s increasingly odious abuse of human rights in order to pursue business interests. This became a big issue last fall when the NBA reacted badly after Houtson Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed solidarity with pro-freedom protesters in Hong Kong. The same coaches and players who normally have a lot to say about social justice issues suddenly had nothing critical to say about China. What are a few mandatory re-education camps between friends after all. And why make a big deal about the basic freedoms of 7 or 8 million people in Hong Kong when the NBA has exhibition basketball games to play.

The NBA and other companies were rightly put on the spot for all of that hypocrisy, but at some point aren’t all U.S. companies relying on China turning the same blind eye to a communist country that is increasingly belligerent and repressive? If the loss of freedom for millions in Xinijiang or Hong Kong isn’t enough to make us reconsider our engagement with China, what is? If China’s misbehavior in the South China Sea isn’t enough, what is? If China’s dishonest reaction to the coronavirus outbreak isn’t enough, what will it take before we decide the status quo can’t continue? Do we need to see an invasion of Taiwan before we decide that maybe it’s time to stop pretending Xi Jinping’s China is going to change for the better? Because that’s probably what is coming next.

Japan decided back in April that it would fund firms to move their operations out of China and home to Japan. Maybe the U.S. needs to start thinking along the same lines.

Update: Meant to include this. Here’s the Chinese Ambassador’s statement about the Canadian court’s decision. According to China, this is solely about the U.S. desire to damage Huawei. The statement calls this a “grave political incident.”