The heiress to Chinese technology giant Huawei is due in court in Canada this morning for after she was arrested in Vancouver last week.
Meng Wanzhou will appear before a judge at British Columbia Supreme Court on Friday for a bail hearing after she was arrested at Vancouver airport last Saturday for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
China reacted angrily to the news, accused America of violating her rights, and demanded she be released from custody, but experts warned that more forceful actions could be coming, including tit-for-tat arrests of U.S. citizens.
Meng Wanzhou will appear in court in Vancouver on Friday morning for a bail hearing after she was arrested on Saturday and accused of violating US sanctions against Iran
Meng was arrested she she changed planes at Vancouver airport (file image) on Saturday December 1 and has been in custody ever since, pending her bail hearing today
James Lewis, director of technology policy at the CSIS think tank, told Axios: ‘They will retaliate and China will take hostages.
‘If I was an American tech executive, I wouldn’t travel to China this week.’
News of the arrest only began spreading on Thursday after Meng was granted a publication ban. In a day of rapid developments, it was reported that:
- Meng has connections via her husband Xiaozong Liu to at least two luxury properties in Vancouver
- She appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday but the bail hearing was adjourned until Friday morning
- Huawei sources said the company did sell phones with US components in Iran, but stopped after sanctions were imposed
- Trump denied having any knowledge of the operation, but National Security Adviser John Bolton admitted he did know
- Trudeau also had a few days’ notice, but denied having anything to do with planning the arrest
Meng appeared in British Columbia Supreme Court on Wednesday for a hearing, but the proceedings were adjourned until Friday, the Vancouver Sun reports.
She is being held under a provisional arrest warrant issued under the Extradition Act, though little else is known about the case after a judge granted Meng a on order banning details from being made public.
Lawyer Gary Botting, who has experience with extradition cases and spoke to the Guardian, said that if Meng is granted bail today, she will likely have to post a surety amounting to ‘several million’ dollars.
She would also have to give up her passport, may be forced to wear an electronic tag, and could even be assigned guards until her extradition hearing.
After the bail hearing Meng will have to return to court for extradition proceedings as the U.S. tries to have her moved across the border, though no date has been set.
If she chooses not to fight extradition, then she could be in the U.S. within weeks to face charges.
However, if she chooses to fight it through the courts, then the process could be delayed for years.
Chinese businessman and oil tycoon Lai Changxing, who fled his home country for Vancouver in 1999 after being implicated in a massive bribery scandal, managed to fight extradition back to China for 12 years.
Sources close to Huawei told the Financial Times that Huawei had sold phones containing American components in Iran, but said the company stopped when sanctions were brought in.
Huawei said it ‘complies with all laws in countries where it operates’ and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Meng.
Meng did appear before the British Columbia Supreme Court (pictured) on Wednesday but the case was adjourned until Friday morning
Meng is the heiress to Huawei, which recently overtook Apple to become the world’s second-largest technology firm behind Samsung
It is not known what Meng was doing in Canada, but it has emerged that she has links to at least two properties in the city through her husband.
Properties records seen by the Vancouver Sun show two expensive homes belonging to a Xiaozong Liu, which is the name of Meng’s husband.
One is located on Matthews Avenue in Shaughnessy, the Vancouver Sun reports, where properties sell for more than $10million each.
The other is on West 28th Street in Dunbar, where homes go for more than $1million.
News of Meng’s arrest, which only emerged on Thursday after a judge granted a reporting ban on the case, sent shock waves around the world.
China reacted with anger as state-run newspapers called Meng’s arrest a ‘despicable rogue’s approach’ motivated by U.S. jealously over its superior technology.
Chinese officials demanded to know the precise details of the case and accused the U.S. of violating human rights by detaining Meng without giving a reason.
The country’s Ottawa embassy demanded she be released from custody.
Stock markets also tumbled at the news, having previously risen after it looked like Donald Trump had negotiated a ceasefire to the brewing U.S.-China trade war during talks with Xi Jinping at the G20.
In fact, even as those talks were going ahead, Canadian officials were busy arresting Meng in Vancouver.
Trump denied any advanced knowledge of the operation, and while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted being informed of the pending arrest a few days beforehand, he insisted he had nothing to do with the planning.
Both leaders denied the arrest was political, but markets struggled to ignore the political implications of arresting such an important figure amid tense negotiations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging more than 700 points on Thursday.
However, National Security Adviser John Bolton admitted that he did know about the arrest in advance on Thursday, raising the prospect that he might have gone behind the president’s back in an attempt to scupper negotiations.
It is not known precisely who ordered the arrest, only that it came after a request from the U.S.
The arrest was made at Washington’s request as part of a US investigation of an alleged scheme to use the global banking system to evade US sanctions against Iran, according to people familiar with the probe.
Meng is the daughter of billionaire company founder Ren Zhengfei, a former Chinese People’s Liberation Army engineer.
Donald Trump said he was unaware of plans to arrest Meng while Justin Trudeau said he was made aware a few days in advance, but said he had nothing to do with planning the arrest
Trade markets slumped at news of the arrest, which is likely to complicate trade negotiations between China and the U.S. (pictured, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump talk at the G20 summit)
Another U.S. official told Reuters that while it was a Justice Department matter and not orchestrated in advance by the White House, the case could send a message that Washington is serious about what it sees as Beijing’s violations of international trade norms.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the arrest could complicate efforts to reach a broader U.S.-China trade deal but would not necessarily damage the process.
Meng’s detention also raised concerns about potential retaliation from Beijing in Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to distance himself from the arrest.
‘The appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference … we were advised by them with a few days’ notice that this was in the works,’ Trudeau told reporters in Montreal in televised remarks.
Markets were chaotic over news of the arrest. On Wall Street, the broad-based S&P Index closed down 0.31 percent after making up steep early losses.
‘The concept of getting a quick resolution is fading,’ Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR, said of the trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Huawei is one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment and services providers. Its products are used by carriers around the world, including in Europe and Africa.
But its US business has been tightly constrained by worries it could undermine American competitors and that its cellphones and networking equipment, used widely in other countries, could provide Beijing with avenues for espionage.
Australia, New Zealand and Britain have followed suit this year by rejecting some of the company’s services over security concerns.
Japan too plans to ban government use of telecom products made by Huawei and Chinese tech firm ZTE, reported Japanese media Yomiuri Shimbun on Friday.
Arrested Huawei exec, 46, is notoriously publicity-shy and was named by Forbes as one of China’s most important women
Meng Wanzhou, 46, is the chief financial officer of Huawei and widely assumed to be heiress to one of the world’s biggest tech companies.
She is notoriously publicity-shy and gave her first interview in 2013, in which she described having to work her way up through the company ranks, starting out answering phones at the front desk in 1993.
It seems father Ren Zhengfei, who founded the £2.6billion company in 1987 with just £2,500, did not make much of his enterprising daughter – at least at first.
Meng Wanzhou is second-in-command at the world’s largest technology firm, but started her career answering phones at the front desk
Wenran Jiang, a senior fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Asian Research, told the Vancouver Sun: ‘She was actually at one point criticized by her father and being suppressed from promotion.
‘That was a well-known story and she eventually proved herself and moved herself up in the ranks.’
It is said that when she first joined the company, few of her colleagues knew she was the Chairman’s daughter.
She also described her job as ‘trivial’ and ‘exhausting’ in an internal publication around the same time.
Meng later described how she left Huawei temporarily in 1997 and spent the next year and half getting a Master’s degree in accounting.
Afterwards she returned to Huawei’s financial department and her career at the company really took off, a Chinese article said.
Now, she is ranked 12th on Forbes list of outstanding Chinese businesswomen and occupies a seat at her father’s right-hand as the company’s vice chairman.
Father Ren Zhengfei publicly criticized his daughter at first and actively suppressed her for promotion, but she eventually proved her worth