Huawei Technologies' Meng Wanzhou, the 46-year CFO arrested last week in Vancouver and now at the heart of a potentially dangerous trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, will face a second day of bail hearings Monday as U.S. authorities seek her extradition on charges she helped a company evade sanctions on Iran.
Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei's founder and tightly-connected to the country's political elite, is fighting the extradition move and seeking bail on the grounds she suffers from ill health. Canadian prosecutors have insisted she is a flight risk if granted bail amid allegations she both helped a company called Skycom evade U.S. sanctions and deceived banks into assisting it in the process, which China's Foreign Ministry demanded her immediate release.
"China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained person, and earnestly protect their lawful, legitimate rights, otherwise Canada must accept full responsibility for the serious consequences caused," the Ministry said in a statement published Sunday.
The case centers around an allegation that Meng, as well as other company executives, hid the true ownership of Skycom in order to gain access to banking system networks, obtain financing and use that to sell embargoed tech equipment to Iran.
The December 1 arrest, which fell on the same day that Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jingping reached an agreement to suspend tariff increases for 90 days, threatens to upend accelerated talks between the world's two biggest economies to reach a comprehensive trade agreement.
Those talks were given a "hard" deadline of March 1 by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer Sunday, who told CBS's 'Face the Nation' that "when I talk to the President of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March, adding that "the way this is set up is that at the end of 90 days ... tariffs will be raised."
However, Meng's arrest, and the U.S. demand for her extradition, adds a new layer of complexity on top of the ticking clock, as China's Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad to complain that "the actions of the U.S. seriously violated the lawful and legitimate rights of the Chinese citizen, and by their nature were extremely nasty," adding that China would "respond further depending on U.S. actions."
China's ongoing trade surplus with the United States also creates a second tier of sensitivity to the discussions, with data from the customs office in Beijing published Sunday showing the year-to-December tally hit a record $293.5 billion as exports rose 9.8% in November and imports plunged by 25%.