China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday demanded the US and Canada explain the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer and called for her immediate release.

Meng Wanzhou, a vice-chair of the company and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in transit through Vancouver and is sought for extradition by the US. A bail hearing has been set for Friday.

Meng Wanzhou
Meng Wanzhou. Photo: Huawei.

Her arrest came after American authorities reportedly launched an investigation into Huawei’s suspected violation of the US-Iran sanctions. But a spokesperson for Canada’s Ministry of Justice said that no further details could be provided owing to a publication ban sought by Meng.

The global telecommunications giant, Huawei, is one of the world’s largest companies of its kind.

At a regular press conference on Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that the government had “expressed its solemn position” on the case to Canada and the US respectively.

“We demand that the other side immediately clarify the reasons for the detention and release the detained person immediately,” he said. “Personnel shall earnestly protect the lawful and legitimate rights and interests of the parties concerned.”

Geng shuang
China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang. Photo: China gov’t.

Geng said both Canada and the US have not given any reasons for Meng’s detention.

Following the arrest, Huawei said it was unaware of any wrongdoing and was in compliance with all applicable laws.

The US and Canada had “trampled on international legal principles” by arresting Meng without any solid evidence, said Chinese economist Mei Xinyu. The senior expert on international trade at China’s Ministry of Commerce made the comment in an online post.

Huawei Canada
Huawei, Canada. Photo: Wikicommons.

“This incident shows that the US and some governments who follow the US more closely have ignored the bottom line of international law,” Mei said.

“For a period of time from now on, from government agencies, research institutes, enterprises to other fields, we have to reduce and cancel important people’s visits to the US, Canada and other countries that will follow the lead of the US – the riskiest ones would be the Five Eyes Alliance – US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.”

“We cannot easily believe that the US will end the large-scale trade war that is without a bottom line within a short period of time,” he added.

On Wednesday, British telecoms operator BT said it was removing Huawei equipment within its 5G mobile network.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.