Western media hype arrests before Huawei exec trial

By Chen Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/26 22:48:40

A profile of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is displayed on a Huawei computer at a Huawei store in Beijing. Photo: AP

Even before the scheduled appearance for the extradition case of top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, set for Monday to Thursday as local media reported, Western media such as the New York Times and the Financial Times have come up with reports on arrested former Huawei employees who leaked so-called forbidden subject about Iran. The move is considered a choreographed public opinion campaign in weighing on the Canadian government to choose a side between China and the US, insiders and analysts said on Sunday. 

The hearing is likely to take place by teleconference due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) pandemic.Given the case has been based on politically motivated false allegations, it would take much longer than anticipated to see a result coming out of the legal proceedings, particularly when the pandemic is likely to disrupt and complicate the relations among China, Canada and the US, according to analysts. 

Meng, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, was arrested in Canada on December 1, 2018 at the behest of the US, which is widely believed to be politically motivated to counter China's rise in the high-tech sector. And China-Canada diplomatic ties as well as business and trade relations have suffered greatly ever since Meng's arrest.

As Meng faced extradition to the US for alleged bank fraud, more evidences have emerged at the end of 2019 that the arrest was a politically driven trap jointly colluded by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that included abuse of law enforcement procedures.

The British Colombia Supreme Court heard arguments in January 2020 on the matter of double criminality - a crucial factor to decide whether the extradition to the US would proceed, according to media reports. While the US Justice Department alleged Meng committed bank and wire fraud by misleading multinational bank HSBC her company's relation with a subsidiary and made transactions that violated US sanctions on Iran, her lawyer defense team said the sanctions that the US was trying to enforce against Iran did not exist in Canada at the time Canadian officials agreed to begin extradition, the Washington Post reported on January 21. 

While the case is adjourned until Monday (April 27), the New York Times run a story on Sunday citing some former Huawei employees including Li Hongyuan and Zeng Meng who claimed to have been detained by Shenzhen police for "talking about the topic on Huawei's activities in Iran." In fact they were detained for blackmailing and later released. 

"This is a common way for Western media outlets to hype on certain topic in order to interfere with a legal case, or with lawyers and judges in handling the case," Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

In addition, a US-led "Blame China" campaign amid the COVID-19 pandemic would also affect the legal proceedings in Canada, which will also test the legitimacy of its law and the independence of its judicial system considered growing political tensions, Li said. 

Also, the former employee Zeng, who was interviewed by the New York Times, has been engaging in labor lawsuit with Huawei. Zeng harshly criticized not only the company but also some Chinese dissidents oversea, according to some sources close to the matter. Zeng has also openly supported anti-government and separatist forces in Hong Kong, as some of his Twitter posts showed, which helped him attract attention of some Western media like the NYT that hold biased views on China and spread rumors on social media. 

The case of Meng has always been a card for the US to play in counterbalancing China, and they are unlikely to drop this bargaining chip, Xiang Ligang, a veteran industry analyst, who has been following Huawei issues for a long time, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"At such a moment amid the pandemic that makes geopolitical relations more complicated, the legal proceedings would also take much longer," he said. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Huawei has delivered more than 1 million masks, 30,000 goggles and 50,000 pairs of gloves to Canada, local news site theglobeandmail reported on April 6. The theglobeandmail report said Huawei has planned to donate 6 million masks to Canada, which comes at a time when it seeks a key federal approval to install its 5G technology in Canada and sought the release of Meng.

"I believe Huawei made the donations based on humanitarian concerns, as the virus is a common enemy for all," Xiang said.

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