OTTAWA—China is stepping up criticism of the United States over the American demand that Canada extradite Meng Wanzhou, saying the Trump administration should drop its pursuit of fraud allegations against the Huawei executive and warning of a “further response” if the U.S. doesn’t “correct its mistakes.”
On Tuesday, Chinese government spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that the U.S. should “immediately correct its mistake, withdraw its arrest order for Ms. Meng Wanzhou and refrain from making a formal extradition request to the Canadian side.”
Asked whether there would be an impact on high-stakes trade talks now underway between the U.S. and China if the extradition were to proceed, Hua replied: “This case is a serious mistake and we urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake.”
“What the U.S. has done, with its egregious nature, severely infringes upon the legal and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens. China is firmly opposed to that. We urge the U.S. side to take seriously the solemn position of the Chinese side, take measures to correct its wrongdoings and withdraw its arrest order for the Chinese citizen. China will make further response in view of the actions taken by the U.S.”
To date, China has mainly taken public aim at Canada.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministry spokesperson nevertheless continued to blast Canada for arresting Meng.
“Be it Canada or the U.S., they need to grasp the seriousness of the case and take measures to correct their mistakes.”
Hua slammed the “ridiculous logic” of security concerns about Huawei’s technology equipment, and suggested the extradition process is being used as a way to target Huawei.
“The flagrant and unwarranted suppression on Chinese hi-tech companies will be proved to be terribly wrong by history. I believe that fairness and justice will prevail.”
“We keep stressing that security issues need to be backed up by facts. The U.S., Canada and several of their so-called allies have been going all out to create a sense of panic worldwide to the effect that whoever uses China’s hi-tech communications equipment will be spied on by China. But, do they have any evidence?! No. If they can offer no evidence, they’d better halt their ridiculous blabbering which only makes them a laughingstock for all.”
A week after Meng’s arrest was publicly revealed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing summoned the Canadian ambassador first, then the U.S. ambassador to formally raise objections in private.
But no U.S. citizens are known to have been targeted by Chinese state security forces as a result while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s detention of the two Canadian men “unlawful” and “unacceptable” and demanded their release after meeting with Canada’s foreign affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland last month.
Canadians Michael Kovrig, a former employee of Canada’s embassy in Beijing now working for International Crisis Group, and businessman Michael Spavor are being held in an undisclosed location, in cells where the lights are kept on round the clock, and they are interrogated for four hours a day.
A day after she first questioned the credibility of the more than 140 scholars and diplomats who signed an open letter urging China to release the two Canadian detainees, Hua intensified her criticism of them, according to a Chinese government translation posted on the government’s website.
She accused the letter writers of “deliberately creating a sense of panic” and said they “interfered in China’s judicial sovereignty” by trying to “pile on pressure” on China with the much publicized letter.
“Do they wish to see an open letter undersigned by the 1.4 billion Chinese people addressed to the Canadian leader? I believe that the voice for justice from the Chinese people must be much louder than the sound made by just over 100 people.”
Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc