Canada decided Friday to move forward with the court process to extradite controversial Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou to the United States, adding fuel to the fire of a three-way fight between Ottawa, Beijing and Washington.
"Today, Department of Justice Canada officials issued an authority to proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou," Canadian officials said in a statement.
Wanzhou, who serves as chief financial officer at phone giant Huawei, was detained in Canada late last year to face U.S. charges. Prosecutors allege that she lied to banks to trick them into processing transactions for Huawei that could potentially have violated Iran trade sanctions.
Friday's decision came just one day after the Chinese mobile phone maker pleaded innocent to charges in the United States that it stole trade secrets from T-Mobile. The company is also accused of committing wire fraud and obstruction of justice. That trial has been scheduled for March 2, 2020.
Meng's detention has sparked a diplomatic fight between Canada, China and the United States. U.S. officials claim Huawei steals American companies' intellectual property and also attempted to sell U.S. equipment to Iran in violation of American sanctions against that country. But shortly after Meng's arrest, China sentenced Canadian citizen Robert Schellenberg to death in a Chinese drug-smuggling case. Many saw the move as retaliation for Meng's seizure. China's Canadian embassy said Friday that Beijing is "utterly unsatisfied and firmly opposes" Ottawa's decision to move forward with extradition.
The fight over Meng also comes at a time that Huawei has been eating U.S. phone maker Apple's (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report lunch in China as Apple continues to lose market share in the world's most populous country. As such, some see Meng's detention as one front in the broader fight between the United States and China over bilateral trade.