Between 2 superpowers: What’s happened so far in the Canada-China-Huawei spat?
An arrest of an executive at China’s telecommunications giant Huawei in British Columbia has put Canada in a strained position between two global superpowers, the U.S. and China.
Read on for a timeline of the events so far.
On Dec. 1, Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested on “unspecified charges” in Vancouver on behalf of the U.S. as she was changing flights, and faced extradition to the U.S.
The arrest sent shockwaves through the global markets, which were already on edge over U.S. and China trade tensions.
China responded to the arrest saying that Meng had not violated any law, no reason had been given for the arrest and that it had infringed on her human rights.
On Dec. 6, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government had no involvement in Meng’s arrest, but had been given a few days notice ahead of the arrest.
WATCH: Huawei’s chief financial officer arrested in Vancouver
Why Meng was arrested
Before Meng’s bail hearing, details of why the arrest was made soon began to emerge.
Reuters, citing sources, reported that it was done because Meng was part of an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, which the U.S. had been investigating since 2016.
Then, on Dec.7, the allegations against Meng and Huawei were revealed at Meng’s bail hearing.
Meng was charged with conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, and it was alleged Huawei used telecommunications firm Skycom as an unofficial subsidiary to conduct business in Iran, in contravention of U.S. sanctions.
Meng allegedly deceived financial institutions by saying Skycom and Huawei were separate when they were not. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.
Court documents from the bail hearing also revealed that Meng has a strong Vancouver connection. She owns two homes in the city, two of her four children attended school there, her husband gained a master’s degree there, and she used to live there.
WATCH: Who is Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO?
Meng was considered a flight risk due to her wealthy connections, and so she spent the weekend in jail as the court adjourned before another bail hearing.
On Dec. 8, reaction started to come forward from China over the arrest.
China’s state media described Meng’s arrest as a “kidnapping.”
China’s foreign ministry said that there would be “serious” consequences if Meng was not released. The ministry said the arrest was “extremely nasty,” that it “ignored the law” and was “unreasonable.”
Meng’s arrest continued to affect foreign relations, with British Columbia’s government trade mission deciding to no longer visit China.
Canadian is detained
Then, on Dec. 11, former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in Beijing. Kovrig works for Crisis Group International, which reports on global conflict.
WATCH: No explanation for ex-Canadian diplomat’s arrest in Canada
It was not clear why he was detained or if it was related to Meng.
That same day, Meng was released on $10 million bail with a number of conditions, such as that she has to wear an ankle bracelet, surrender her passports and stay in Vancouver in one of her two homes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Trump may use case to help U.S.-China trade
On the same day, U.S. President Donald Trump finally weighed in on the situation, saying that he would intervene in the case if it meant it would help secure a trade deal with China.
“If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary,” Trump said.
In response, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said that countries seeking extraditions from Canada must make sure their requests are solely about seeking justice, not about political interference.
The Justice Department also said that it is “not a tool of trade,” in response to Trump’s comment.
Second Canadian goes missing
On Dec. 13, the day after Meng’s bail release and two days after Kovrig’s detainment, a second Canadian went missing in China. That Canadian was Michael Spavor, who runs Paektu Cultural Exchange, which helps people travel to North Korea and was based in Dandong.
WATCH: Who is Michael Spavor, the second Canadian to go missing in China?
Freeland said a Canadian had gone missing shortly after he alerted Canadian officials that he had been questioned by Chinese authorities.
“We are aware of a Canadian who got in touch with us because he was being asked questions by Chinese authorities,” Freeland said. “We have not been able to make contact since he raised those concerns.”
China confirmed that two Canadian were being detained over national security concerns.
Friends of Kovrig and Spavor say they see no way either could be a national security concern to China.
On Dec. 14, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that China should release the two Canadians, and their detainment was “unacceptable.”
“The unlawful detention of two Canadian citizens is unacceptable,” Pompeo said. “They ought to be returned. … We ask all nations of the world to treat other citizens properly.”
Pompeo’s comment was the first time a senior U.S. official commented on the arrests.
WATCH: How U.S. is responding to spat between Canada and China
Fallout from Meng’s arrest continued, with Canadian Tourism Minister Melanie Joly announcing she was cancelling a trip to China after news of the two Canadians detained. Joly was scheduled to attend the closing ceremonies for the Canada-China Year of Tourism.
The same day, the Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, met Kovrig. Details of his condition were not shared. Then on Dec. 16, McCallum met Spavor.
Though China has not said the arrests are related to Meng, experts say it is a retaliatory move and to expect more of them from China.
Now we are waiting to see if Meng will be extradited to the U.S.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould outlined the process, which involves the U.S. filing an official extradition request, with Wilson-Raybould potentially having to make the final decision whether to surrender Meng to U.S. authorities.
This could leave Canada between a rock and a hard place, caught between two economic superpowers.
WATCH: China escalates criticism of Canada’s fidelity to rule of law
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