Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that his government had been given a few days notice prior to the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer. He added that the case had nothing to do with politics.

Meng Wanzhou, a vice-chair of the Chinese technology giant, and daughter of its founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in transit through Vancouver airport on December 1 and is sought for extradition by the US. A bail hearing has been set for Friday.

Her arrest came after American authorities reportedly launched an investigation into Huawei’s suspected violation of the US-Iran sanctions. But Canada said it could not reveal more details owing to a publication ban sought by Meng.

Trudeau told reporters at a technology conference in Montreal that Canada has an independent judiciary.

“The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference, as must be the case,” he said. “We were advised by them with a few days’ notice that this was in the works, but of course there was no engagement or involvement in the political level in this decision, because we respect the independence of our judiciary processes.”

“I have not had any direct or indirect conversations with any of my international counterparts on this,” he added.

Meng Wanzhou. Photo: Huawei.

But Canada said it could not reveal more details owing to a publication ban sought by Meng.

Canada’s allies, including the US, UK and Australia, have been taking actions to ban Huawei. When asked by a reporter why Canada had not followed suit, Trudeau said the Canadian government would follow the recommendations made by its intelligence agencies.

When Meng was arrested, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump were in Buenos Aires together at the G20 summit, reaching a 90-day truce in the ongoing trade war.

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. File photo: White house.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton told NPR that he had already known about Meng’s arrest.

“I knew in advance, but this is something that we get from the Justice Department, and these kinds of things happen with some frequency. We certainly don’t inform the president on every one of them,” he said.

Bolton also declined to reveal the details of the arrest, but did make a comment on the related Iran sanctions.

John Bolton. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

He said that the violations of the Iran sanctions were “certainly of major concern to the Trump administration.”

“It’s one of his signature policies and I think that applies on a global basis. But with respect to a number of Chinese companies, we saw what happened with ZTE some months ago and many other issues of concern like that,” he said.

“And I think, as I say, as the negotiations proceed I think we’re gonna see a lot about what Chinese companies have done to steal intellectual property, to hack into the computer systems, not just of the US government, although they’ve done that, but into private companies as well.”

Kris Cheng

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.