ILLUSTRATION. Huawei Technologies Finance Director Meng Wanzhou. REUTERS/Jennifer Gauthier
Source: Reuters | Editor: Herlina Kartika Dewi
KONTAN.CO.ID – SHENZHEN. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou arrived in China on Saturday (25/9), ending her nearly three-year struggle for US extradition. The same day, two Canadians detained by Beijing for more than 1,000 days returned home, potentially paving the way for improved relations between China and its two western allies.
Quotes ReutersOn Sunday (26/9), Meng, daughter of Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengfei, was allowed to return home after reaching an agreement with US prosecutors on Friday to end a bank fraud case against her.
The extradition drama has been a major source of friction between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials hinting that the case should be dropped to help end the diplomatic stalemate.
Two Canadians detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — were hugged by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the tarmac after they landed in Calgary.
“You have shown incredible strength, resilience and perseverance,” Trudeau said in a Twitter post with photos of him welcoming them home.
“Know that Canadians across the country will continue to be here for you, just like before.”
In the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Meng wore a patriotic red dress as she stepped off the plane to be greeted by well-wishers.
“I’m finally back home,” Meng was quoted as saying by the tabloid Global Times, which is backed by the ruling Communist Party.
“Waiting in a foreign country is full of suffering. I was speechless when my feet touched Chinese soil.”
Chinese state media welcomed Meng back but were silent about Kovrig and Spavor, who were released hours after Meng on Friday.
The agreement opened up criticism of US President Joe Biden of Washington in China who argued that his administration was giving up on China and one of its main companies at the center of the global tech rivalry between the two countries.
Some Chinese commentators feel otherwise.
“By agreeing to let Meng return to China, the Biden administration is signaling that it hopes to clean up the mess left by the former Trump administration,” said Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute for International Studies at Fudan University.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV carried Meng’s statement, which was written as her plane was flying over the Arctic, avoiding US airspace. Her eyes were “blurred with tears” as she approached “the embrace of the great motherland”, Meng said.
Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying he was trying to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions.
Acting US attorney Nicole Boeckmann said Meng had “taken responsibility for her leading role in perpetuating schemes to defraud global financial institutions.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the allegations against him had been “fabricated” to put pressure on the country’s high-tech industry.
At the airport in Shenzhen, Meng’s hometown, crowds of well-wishers chanted patriotic slogans and held high a red banner to welcome his return.
“The fact that Meng Wanzhou can be found innocent and acquitted is a great victory in politics and diplomacy for the people of China,” said Liu Dan, who was among the crowd.
Huawei said in a statement that it was “looking forward to seeing Ms. Meng return home safely to be reunited with her family.” It said it would continue to defend itself against US accusations.
State news agency Xinhua linked Meng’s release to the “relentless efforts of the Chinese government”.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, wrote on Twitter that “international relations have fallen into chaos” as a result of Meng’s “three painful years”.
He added, “No arbitrary detention of Chinese people is allowed.”
However, neither Hu nor other media mentioned Spavor and Kovrig’s releases, and reactions on social media platforms Weibo such as Twitter in China were few and far between.
China’s foreign ministry has not publicly commented.
China has previously denied engaging in “hostage diplomacy”, insisting that the Canadians’ arrest and detention are not tied in any way to proceedings against Meng.
Spavor is accused of supplying photos of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in prison in August. Kovrig is still awaiting sentencing.