Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David McNaughton, said in an interview on Monday that the United States will proceed with its extradition request for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
Meng’s arrest by Canadian authorities and China’s aggressive demands for her release have opened a major diplomatic rift between Ottawa and Beijing.
McNaughton was not happy with the situation, complaining to the Globe and Mail that Canadian citizens are being punished by China and “paying the price” for America’s determination to prosecute Meng.
Chinese authorities have detained several Canadians in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest, and one Canadian convicted of drug smuggling was abruptly sentenced to death under suspicious circumstances. Chinese officials have routinely denied that any of the Canadians were arrested for political reasons.
McNaughton did not specify when he believes the U.S. will file its extradition request, but Reuters noted the deadline is January 30, 60 days from when Meng was arrested in Vancouver.
The Chinese government did not react well to McNaughton’s Globe and Mail interview, as Reuters related:
China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday reiterated calls for Meng’s immediate release and said her case clearly was “not a regular judicial case”.
Anyone with fair judgment would determine that Canada made a “serious mistake” in this matter, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.
“Canada and the United States arbitrarily abused their bilateral extradition treaty to seriously infringe upon a Chinese citizen’s security and legal rights,” Hua said.
China “strongly urges” the United States to correct its “mistake”, cancel the arrest order for Meng, and not make a formal extradition request, she added.
Asked if China would retaliate against the United States if Meng is extradited, Hua said, “China will, of course, respond to U.S. actions.” She did not elaborate.
The BBC reported on Tuesday that 140 Western academics and diplomats have sent an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping asking for the release of two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, who are being held in China.
Hua contemptuously dismissed the letter as showing “disrespect for China’s judicial sovereignty and the spirit of the rule of law.”