If Canada wants to fool China with its judicial independence excuse in Huawei CFO case, it’s gravely mistaken

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/10 19:42:19

Judicial independence excuse won’t hold; consequences will be formidable

Facing harsh condemnation and threats of dire consequences from China over its complicity in the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou,  Canada, in its defense, invoked what the West often boasts as rule of law: a judicial system completely independent from any political influence.

Asked about the case on Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau twice referred to his country's independent judiciary and denied any political consideration in what many in China believe as an impeccable ambush.

"I can assure everyone that we are a country of an independent judiciary and the appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference as must be the case," Trudeau said in Montreal.

If Trudeau's response was  diplomatic, others in Canada went further and even took aim at the Chinese public's "lack of understanding" of Western democracy.

In a tweet, Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau, wrote: "Perhaps because the Chinese State controls its judicial system, Beijing sometimes has difficulty understanding or believing that courts can be independent in a rule-of-law country."

Canada may very well have the world's most perfect judiciary system that it claims to be fully independent from any political influence, but that's not even close to explaining why Canada took such a politically charged move without offering any legal explanation, which should be of paramount importance in a robust and fair judicial system, other than saying it was requested by the US.

Needless to say, Canada's judicial system might not be so independent after all. In his response, Trudeau revealed that he was advised by authorities about the case a few days prior to Meng's December 1 arrest.

Perhaps it is customary for Canadian law enforcement to give prior notice to the Prime Minister on every arrest and maybe Trudeau just took note of the case and did not weigh in on it. But is it too far-fetched to assume that the Canadian legal establishment is aware of the political and diplomatic implications of the case and sought Trudeau's take on it and that Trudeau's silence might be perceived as a green light?

Let's assume the Canadian law enforcement and judicial systems are perfect. But even then, there is something called prosecutorial discretion. No matter how well-supported the case is, prosecutors would still have to weigh in on it. And not all cases might be pursued, even when they actually involve the Canadian public's interest, not to mention that this case is apparently based on alleged infractions of unilateral sanctions the US imposed on Iran. Moreover, it is widely viewed as a political ploy by the US to contain China's rapid rise in the technological realm.

Why Canada took such a politically charged move of such far-reaching implications is anybody's guess. It might be betting on the move to appease Washington to improve their bilateral ties and/or pressure China into giving some kind of trade deals.

But what's certain is that Canada cannot fool China with its simple excuse of an independent legal system, and, given China's strong response and the tempest of public protest it has caused, the move will not bode well for Canada in  many aspects. And so far Canada has done little to correct its mistake.

Newspaper headline: Canada can’t fool China over Huawei arrest

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