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Huawei

Donald Trump says he would intervene in arrest of Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou if it helped secure trade deal with China

  • Trump said he would intervene ‘if I think it’s good for the country’
  • A Canadian court has granted bail to Sabrina Meng Wanzhou while she awaits an extradition hearing
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 8:52am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 8:27pm

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would intervene with the US Justice Department in the case against a Chinese telecommunications executive if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.

“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 a wide-ranging interview with Reuters in the Oval Office.

At the request of US authorities, Huawei Technologies executive Sabrina Meng Wanzhou was arrested earlier this month in Vancouver on charges of violating US sanctions against Iran.

Why Huawei and its CFO are caught up in the US-China trade war

The arrest came the same day Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping declared a 90-day truce in their trade war during summit talks in Buenos Aires.

Trump, who wants China to open up its markets to more American-made products and stop what Washington calls the theft of intellectual property, said he had not yet spoken to Xi about the case against Huawei’s executive.

Meng, 46, faces US accusations she misled multinational banks about Huawei’s control of a company operating in Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating US sanctions and incurring severe penalties, court documents said.

If extradited to the United States, Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions.

A Canadian court on Tuesday granted bail to Meng while she awaits an extradition hearing.

Huawei CFO granted US$7.5m bail after Canadians offer homes as collateral

Trump, who has made sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme a signature part of his foreign policy, was asked whether Meng could be released.

“Well, it’s possible that a lot of different things could happen. It’s also possible it will be a part of negotiations. But we’ll speak to the Justice Department, we’ll speak to them, we’ll get a lot of people involved,” he said.

Asked if he would like to see Meng extradited to the United States, Trump said he wanted to first see what the Chinese request.

He added, however, that Huawei’s alleged practices were troubling.

“This has been a big problem that we’ve had in so many different ways with so many companies from China and from other places,” he said.

Why the US’ moderate China watchers are growing sceptical of Beijing

In the wake of his meeting with Xi in Buenos Aires, Trump said during the interview that trade talks with Beijing were underway by telephone, with more meetings likely among US and Chinese officials.

He said the Chinese government was once again buying large quantities of US soybeans, a reversal after China in July imposed tariffs on US supplies of the oilseed in retaliation for US duties on Chinese goods.

“I just heard today that they’re buying tremendous amounts of soybeans. They are starting, just starting now,” Trump said.

Commodity traders in Chicago, however, said they have seen no evidence of a resumption of soybean purchases by China, which last year bought about 60 per cent of US soybean exports in deals valued at more than US$12 billion.