Canada arrests top Huawei executive

06 December 2018 13:20 Australia Desk

The daughter of Chinese tech giant Huawei's founder has been arrested in Canada and is facing extradition to the United States.

The arrest is related to violations of US sanctions, a person familiar with the matter said. Reuters was unable to determine the precise nature of the violations.

Meng Wanzhou, who is the Chinese technology company's chief financial officer and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on December 1 and a court hearing has been set for Friday, a Canadian Justice Department spokesman said.

Huawei confirmed the arrest and said it had been provided little information of the charges against Meng, adding it was "not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng".

China's embassy in Canada said it resolutely opposed the arrest and called for Meng's immediate release.

The US Justice Department declined to comment.

The arrest could drive a wedge between China and the United States just days after presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping held a meeting in Argentina where they agreed to steps to resolve a brewing trade war.

US authorities have been probing Huawei, one of the world's largest makers of telecommunications network equipment, since at least 2016 for allegedly shipping US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of US export and sanctions laws, sources told Reuters in April.

The arrest drew a sharp response from Chinese media and on the mainland's social media.

"I am shocked. The US can't beat Huawei in the market. Don't act like a despicable rogue," tweeted Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily.

Jia Wenshan, a professor at Chapman University in California, said the arrest was part of a broader geo-political strategy from the Trump administration to counter China and it "runs a huge risk of derailing the US-China trade talks".

The news comes the same day Britain's BT Group said it was removing Huawei's equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G mobile operations and would not use the Chinese company in central parts of the next network.

The Huawei statement said Meng was detained when she was transferring flights in Canada.

The handset and telecommunications equipment maker said it complied with all applicable export control and sanctions laws and US and other regulations.

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