Canada did not inform us of Huawei executive Sabrina Meng Wanzhou’s arrest until asked, China says

  • Beijing says Ottawa should have notified Chinese consular officials ‘without delay’ in line with a bilateral agreement
  • Canada says notice of her detention was provided on the day of her arrest
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018, 12:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2018, 8:37pm

Beijing on Tuesday said Canada failed to inform China about the detention of Huawei Technologies executive Sabrina Meng Wanzhou until officials were asked about the case.

The assertion by foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang came just hours after Ottawa insisted it had notified the Chinese consulate in Vancouver on the day of her arrest.

Canada’s Department of Justice told the Post in the early hours of Tuesday that Chinese consular officials had been informed about the case on December 1, but Beijing has accused Ottawa of violating a bilateral agreement by failing to offer timely notice.

“According to the China-Canada consular agreement, the Canadian government should have notified the Chinese consulate without delay,” Lu said on Tuesday at a press conference. “The Chinese authorities did not receive any first notice but were instead informed by other channels.

“You should have asked [Canada] whether the Chinese government found the Canadian government first or the Canadian government notified the Chinese embassy,” Lu said.

Meng was arrested on December 1 in Vancouver at the behest of the United States, and faces extradition on allegations that she covered up Huawei’s links to an Iranian company in violation of American sanctions.

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Canadian justice officials on Tuesday morning told the Post: “Consular access was provided later that day. China’s ambassador in Ottawa was also in contact with Canadian officials later that same day to discuss the situation.”

The statement from Ottawa came after Lu on Monday said Beijing had not been notified in a timely manner.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t receive any notification from the Canadian government at the first moment,” Lu said.

An editorial by Chinese state news agency Xinhua on Saturday made the same accusation.

Beijing summoned Canadian ambassador John McCallum in protest at Meng’s arrest and urged Ottawa to release her immediately or face “grave consequences that the Canadian side should be held accountable for”.

Huawei case forces China to walk tightrope in US trade talks

The 46-year-old executive was detained while changing planes. Her arrest ratcheted up tensions between the US and China just as President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump met to agree a truce in their trade war.

The two leaders held high-stakes discussions on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Buenos Aires on December 1. They agreed to hold off from imposing additional tariffs for 90 days while they sought to resolve their disputes, which have seen the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods disrupted.

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China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, earlier said the trade talks had been conducted in a “friendly and candid atmosphere”.

Wang on Tuesday morning said Beijing would not allow any abuse of Chinese citizens’ rights.

“We keep abreast of the safety and welfare of every Chinese overseas, at all times. The government will not sit back in silence amid bullying that recklessly violates the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” Wang said at an annual conference on international relations and diplomacy.

“The Chinese government will defend its citizens’ legal rights by all means, and return the world’s fairness and justice.”

A spokesman for Hong Kong’s Security Bureau on Tuesday afternoon said the Chinese diplomatic or consular mission in the concerned country would be notified when a Hong Kong resident was arrested or detained overseas, rather than the bureau or the city’s Immigration Department.

“On the present case, we note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after learning about the relevant situation, is providing consular assistance to the person concerned,” the spokesman said.

Additional reporting by Christy Leung and Catherine Wong