The Slatest

Canadian Court Releases Huawei CFO on Bail After High Stakes Arrest Stokes U.S.-China Standoff

Demonstrators hold signs in support of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou outside her bail hearing at British Columbia Superior Courts on Dec. 11, 2018.
Demonstrators hold signs in support of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou outside her bail hearing on Tuesday.
Jason Redmond/Getty Images

A Canadian court released Meng Wanzhou on bail Tuesday, allowing the chief financial officer of China’s largest privately held company to await her next court appearance nearby from one of the two multimillion-dollar homes she owns in the Vancouver area. The 46-year-old Huawei Technologies executive was held for 10 days after she was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1 at the request of American authorities. The U.S. says Meng misrepresented the link between Huawei—the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications hardware—and the Hong Kong–based company Skycom, which was believed to be selling American goods to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. Meng and Huawei said they severed ties with the company in 2009, but U.S. and Canadian authorities believe Huawei continued to run Skycom as an unofficial subsidiary. That meant Meng’s statements amount to fraud, according to American authorities, and on Aug. 22 they issued a warrant for her arrest.

The arrest comes at particularly tense time in U.S.-China relations, as the Trump administration has gone after what it sees as China’s unacceptable and unfair trade practices by imposing tariffs and imposing stricter national security-based standards on certain Chinese companies’ access to the American market. Beijing believes those national security standards, like Meng’s arrest, are a political ploy by Washington to extract economic concessions and reacted angrily to her detention. Meng’s release Tuesday came shortly after China arrested a former Canadian diplomat and current analyst for the International Crisis Group, Michael Kovrig. It’s unclear if Kovrig’s arrest is related to Meng’s detention. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized that the arrest is a legal matter, not a political one. President Trump, not so much.

Meng’s bail was set at $10 million, of which she and her husband are responsible for $7 million, and the balance will be put up by acquaintances in Canada. “On Tuesday, her team suggested four other Vancouver residents willing to vouch for her, including her Vancouver realtor, an insurance agent who once worked with her at Huawei, a woman’s whose husband once worked at Huawei and a neighbor,” the Washington Post reports. “All agreed to put up their homes, or cash, as collateral should she flee.” There are concerns, given Meng’s wealth, she could walk away from the bail money and return to China, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

As Meng awaits her next court date on Feb. 6, she will be subject to 24-hour physical and electronic surveillance, as well as a curfew. “The United States has 60 days from Ms. Meng’s arrest on Dec. 1 to file a formal extradition request with Canadian authorities,” according to the New York Times. “Canada grants around 90 percent of extradition requests that are heard in court, owing to 1999 changes to its extradition laws. If an extradition request is granted, Ms. Meng will have several options to appeal, and the process could take many months.”