Chinese Media Pressure a Weakened Justin Trudeau to Free Huawei CFO

VANCOUVER, BC - SEPTEMBER 23: Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou leaves the British Columbia Superior Courts at lunch hour on September 23, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. Meng was arrested by Canadian authorities last December on fraud charges and faces extradition to the United States. (Photo by Karen …
Karen Ducey/Getty Images

China’s state-run Global Times on Sunday suggested embattled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should alleviate one of his biggest international political headaches by dropping a U.S. extradition request against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and letting her go free.

The Global Times expected Canadians to cast their votes in the fall election based on numerous factors, so Trudeau’s goose is not yet cooked, but he could use the kind of polling surge that would come with an achievement like restoring Canada-China relations:

Political parties and media will focus on financial deficit, carbon tax, debates over oil pipelines and the SNC-Lavalin affair – a political scandal and controversy in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accused of political interference with the justice system. They will also pay attention to the various diplomatic mistakes and dilemma of the Trudeau administration. Besides, the case of Meng Wanzhou, Chinese tech giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, which has dented Canada-China relations, will also be the subject of heated debates.

Voters are likely to get more information about all the aforesaid topics before heading to the polls. This will add to the uncertainty. 

The Chinese Communist paper offered a golf clap for Trudeau’s ability to skate out of the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal without suffering a “heavy blow” to his approval ratings, then advised him to burnish his weak diplomatic credentials by pleasing Beijing with Meng’s release:

Some people think the Trudeau administration’s foreign policy is acceptable even though opposition parties denounce moves that affect trade ties with China. Moreover, international affairs that concern most Canadians are mainly related to climate and poverty governance. They wish their government could help Canada establish a positive image on the international stage in those regards, which is exactly what Trudeau is good at, compared to handling bilateral relations. 

If Trudeau is reelected, Canada-China ties would offer him a good opportunity to improve his diplomatic skills. In the wake of Canada’s detention of Meng in December 2018, more than half of Canadians stood by the move, showed a poll in January. However, a poll by Nanos Research in August demonstrated that only one in four say the Canadian government has done a good (20 percent) or very good (5 percent) job in handling the Meng issue.

Meng was back in court on Monday, presenting an argument that she was improperly arrested at the Vancouver airport in December and accusing the United States of “attempting to use these extradition proceedings for economic and political gain.”

The lawyers argued that U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments in December about Meng’s arrest provide “important context to what occurred” — namely, that Trump allegedly asked Canada to arrest Meng so she could become a bargaining chip in the U.S. trade war with China.

Meng’s defense team asked the court for access to documents that would show communications between the Canadian justice system and U.S. Justice Department around the time of her arrest. The initial response from the court was suspicion that Meng’s civil lawsuit against Canadian immigration officials is “just a ruse to get information for the extradition proceedings.”

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