SHENZHEN / TORONTO, Sept. 25 (Reuters) – Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou arrived in China on Saturday after more than 1,000 days of house arrest in Canada following an agreement with U.S. prosecutors to put end to a fraud case against him.
Two Canadians held by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest were also released and arrived in Calgary on Saturday, where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received them, local media reported.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengfei, was allowed to return home after reaching a deal on Friday to end the fraud case. This resulted in the cancellation of his extradition hearing to the United States in a Vancouver court the same day.
The years-long extradition drama has been a central source of contention between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signaling that the case must be dropped to help end a diplomatic standoff.
Chinese state media welcomed Meng to the “homeland” on Saturday, but Chinese media have been silent on Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians released from Chinese detention in a seemingly reciprocal act from Beijing. Read more
They were also released hours after Meng, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Footage from CTV television showed Trudeau welcoming the two Michael’s after their arrival in Calgary, in western Canada. Read more
The prime minister’s office did not immediately comment.
The deal opens US President Joe Biden to criticism from Chinese Washington Hawks who claim his administration is capitulating to China and one of its major companies at the center of a global tech rivalry between the two countries.
“SEARCH FOR TEARS”
China’s state-owned CCTV broadcaster broadcast a statement from the Huawei executive, written as its plane flew over the North Pole, avoiding US airspace.
Her eyes were “blurry with tears” as she approached “the embrace of the great homeland,” Meng said. “Without a strong homeland, I wouldn’t have the freedom I have today.”
Meng was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, claiming she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions.
After more than two years of legal wrangling, she was finally allowed to leave Canada and return to China on Friday, after reaching a deal with U.S. prosecutors. Read more
Acting US attorney Nicole Boeckmann said Meng had “taken responsibility for his lead role in perpetuating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution.”
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the charges against her were “fabricated” to suppress the country’s high-tech industries. Read more
ARRIVAL IN SHENZEN
At the airport in Shenzhen, Meng’s hometown, a crowd of supporters chanted patriotic slogans and waved red banners to greet his return.
“The fact that Meng Wanzhou can be found not guilty and released is a huge political and diplomatic victory for the Chinese people,” said Liu Dan, who was among the crowd.
Huawei, founded by Meng’s father, Ren Zhengfei, said in a statement that it “looks forward to seeing Ms. Meng return home safely to reunite with her family.” He said he would continue to defend himself against the US charges.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency officially acknowledged the end of Meng’s house arrest on Saturday, attributing his release to “the Chinese government’s unremitting efforts.”
Hu Xijin, editor of the ruling Communist Party-backed tabloid Global Times, wrote on Twitter that “international relations have fallen into chaos” following Meng’s “three painful years.”
He added, “No arbitrary detention of Chinese is allowed.
However, neither Hu nor other media have mentioned the release of Spavor and Kovrig, and reactions on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo have been sparse.
China’s Foreign Ministry has not commented publicly.
China has previously denied engaging in “hostage diplomacy,” insisting that the arrest and detention of the two Canadians was in no way related to the extradition proceedings against Meng.
Spavor was accused of providing photographs of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in prison in August. Kovrig was still awaiting his conviction.
Report by David Kirton in Shenzhen and David Stanway in Shanghai; Additional reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing Writing and additional reporting by Denny Thomas Editing by Clarence Fernandez, William Mallard and Jane Merriman
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