China calls for release of tech giant's senior executive

Image: Meng Wanzhou arrested in Canada
Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer. Copyright Maxim Shipenkov
By Dawn Liu and Linda Givetash and Associated Press with NBC News World News
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The Chinese Embassy in Canada says Meng Wanhzou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, has not violated any laws and must be released.


BEIJING — China on Thursday demanded the release of a tech giant Huawei Technologies's chief financial officer who was detained in Canada on extradition charges to the United States.

Meng Wanhzou, the daughter of the company's founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia on Dec. 1. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said officials have been contacted both in the U.S. and Canada to demand her release.


Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said her detention needed to be explained, and both countries had to "effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of the person concerned."

The Chinese Embassy in Canada, meanwhile, released a statement saying Meng was not in violation of Canadian or American law. China "firmly opposes and strongly protests" Meng's detention, the embassy said, calling the arrest a "wrongdoing" that "harmed the human rights of the victim."

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Canada's Justice Department said Meng faced possible extradition to the United States. Ian McLeod said a publication ban had been imposed in the case and he could not provide further details.

Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, said in a statement that the company has "very little information regarding the charges" against Meng, who was changing flights in Vancouver when she was detained.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that U.S. authorities are investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran.

When asked about the Iran reports, a spokesperson for privately held Huawei told NBC News in a statement that it "complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations."

Huawei, which recently passed Apple as the second-biggest maker of cellphones after Samsung Electronics, has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. Under Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology.

The U.S. sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for Chinese spying and as commercial competitors. The Trump administration says they benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers.

Trump's tariff hikes this year on Chinese imports stemmed from complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. But American officials also worry more broadly about Chinese plans for state-led industry development they worry might erode U.S. industrial leadership.

U.S. leaders also worry that Beijing is using the growth of Chinese business abroad to gain strategic leverage.


Stock markets tumbled on the news of Meng's arrest, which came on the heels of an announcement of a U.S.-Chinese cease-fire in a tariff war over Beijing's technology policy. The effect has renewed fears that U.S.-Chinese tensions threaten global economic growth. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 2.5 percent and the DAX in Germany sank 1.8 percent.

Meng is scheduled to have a bail hearing Friday, according to Canadian authorities.

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