China Slams ‘Arrogant’ Trudeau as Huawei Battle Heats Up
(Bloomberg) -- China denounced Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments as “extremely unreasonable, absurd and arrogant,” as Beijing ramped up an 11th-hour effort to prevent a Huawei Technologies Co. executive’s extradition to the U.S.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa expressed its “great indignation and strongest condemnation” in a statement Thursday protesting Trudeau’s criticism of an 11-year prison sentence of Canadian national Michael Spavor. The prime minister had condemned the verdict in Spavor’s politically charged spying trial Wednesday as “absolutely unacceptable and unjust.”
The embassy also pushed back against allegations that the prosecutions of Spavor and fellow Canadian Michael Kovrig were arbitrary detentions intended to pressure Ottawa to block the extradition of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou. The Chinese government views the case as a politically motivated attack on one of its chief technology champions.
“There is no such thing as ‘arbitrary detention’ at all,” the embassy said of the Spavor case. “On the contrary, the Canadian side, disregarding the political nature of the Meng Wanzhou incident and acting as an accomplice of the U.S. side, has detained Ms. Meng, an innocent Chinese citizen who violates no Canadian law at all, for nearly 1,000 days. This is arbitrary detention in every sense of the term.”
A spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Washington also criticized the U.S. for “making reckless and irresponsible comments” on Spavor’s case in a statement on Thursday, and urged American authorities “to unconditionally revoke Meng’s extradition.”
Spavor and Kovrig were detained by China’s top spy agency in December 2018, days after Meng’s arrest in Vancouver and the government has advanced their prosecutions in tandem with Meng’s extradition fight. The Spavor verdict came just as Meng’s defense began a final effort to prevent her from being sent to the U.S. to face fraud charges. The timing of Kovrig’s verdict remains unclear.
Diplomats from 25 countries, including Japan, Germany and the U.K., gathered at the Canadian Embassy before Spavor’s verdict, in a gesture Ambassador Dominic Barton said showed Beijing “that all the eyes of the world are watching.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a statement denouncing the use of arbitrary detentions to exercise diplomatic leverage.
“People should never be used as bargaining chips,” Blinken said.
The Chinese Embassy dismissed the diplomatic show of solidarity with Canada as an attempt at “megaphone diplomacy” by a “handful of diplomats from Western countries.” “This is totally in vain,” it said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.