The courtroom defense of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou hasn’t been going so well. Ever since Meng was arrested in Canada back in 2018, she has been fighting her extradition to the United States where she would face charges of violating U.S. sanctions.
Last summer, Meng’s case was deemed to meet the standard of “double criminality” essentially saying that the thing she was wanted for in the U.S. would also have been illegal in Canada. That was a major step toward her extradition. Since then, her lawyers have been complaining that she is the victim of the Trump administration.
Meng’s arguments center on what her legal team describes in court filings as “shocking and corrosive” statements made by Trump and other officials, which it alleges have reduced her to “an economic asset” and “risk undermining the integrity . . . and fairness” of the proceedings…
“The President, as chief executive of the requesting state, has made repeated threats to intervene in the applicant’s case in order to leverage her prosecution for political purposes,” Meng’s lawyers write. “This conduct is deeply offensive to the rule of law and the integrity of the judicial process.”
But Canada’s attorney general points out that, well, none of this really matters. In a word, it’s moot.
“The facts on which it is based — statements by a President no longer in office, about a possible intervention in a case that never occurred, purportedly to achieve a trade deal that has long since been successfully negotiated — have no past, present or prospective impact on these proceedings,” they write in legal filings.
But if China’s efforts to win in court have failed, their efforts to win the case by taking hostages may turn out to be more successful. Days after Meng was arrested in Canada, two Canadian businessmen were arrested in China. While Meng has been living in luxury in an $11 million mansion during her trial and enjoying shopping sprees and massages, the two Canadians have been held in prison for 800 days.
Whenever Canada’s ambassador to China visits Michael Kovrig virtually in jail, the prisoner gives him a list of books he wants to read next. In January he asked for “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. Like the unhappy hero of that novel, Mr Kovrig, a Canadian former diplomat, has done nothing wrong. Yet he has been stuck in a cell in Beijing for 800 days. The true reason for his ordeal has never been stated openly by Chinese authorities. His fate, and that of another Canadian, Michael Spavor, depends on a case neither man had anything to do with: the detention in Canada of a Chinese businesswoman, Meng Wanzhou.
The “two Michaels”, as they are known in Canada, appear to be hostages…
In February Morgan Elliott, Huawei’s vice-president for government relations in Canada, almost said as much in a television interview. “Mr Ren, like any father, wants his daughter home, just as the families of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor want their family,” he said.
And this week, the CCP is upping the stakes. A Chinese state news source is reporting the trial of the two Michaels will begin soon:
The report, published by Chinese publication Global Times (which has links to the ruling Chinese Communist Party), said Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor “will soon be tried” according to sources “close to the matter…
Beijing has denied the two cases are linked, accusing Kovrig of “having used an ordinary passport and business visa to enter China to steal sensitive information,” the report said. Spavor, meanwhile, is accused of supplying information to Kovrig.
Like any gangsters, the CCP makes it clear what they are demanding while simultaneously denying they are doing anything wrong. This really does put the U.S. is in a tough position. Moving forward against Meng could result in these two innocent Canadians spending years longer in Chinese prisons. That’s a lot to ask from any ally. On the other hand, giving in to CCP hostage takers sets a very bad precedent. If you negotiate with hostage takers once, you can expect more hostages in the future. If this works for China in Meng’s case, you can bet the CCP will do it again, maybe with American businessmen next time.