Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on January 23, 2020. A former ambassador to China says tomorrow’s decision in the extradition case of Huawei exective Meng Wanzhou could also determine the fate of two Canadians detained in China. David Mulroney, who served as Canada’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China between 2009 to 2012, says if Meng is released then he expects China will eventually follow suit and release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on January 23, 2020. A former ambassador to China says tomorrow’s decision in the extradition case of Huawei exective Meng Wanzhou could also determine the fate of two Canadians detained in China. David Mulroney, who served as Canada’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China between 2009 to 2012, says if Meng is released then he expects China will eventually follow suit and release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Fate of two Canadians could be affected by Meng decision: former ambassador

The detention of Kovrig and Spavor is widely seen as arbitrary retaliation against Canada

A former ambassador to China says Wednesday’s decision in the extradition case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou could also determine the fate of two Canadians detained in China.

David Mulroney, who served as Canada’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China between 2009 and 2012, said if Meng is released then he expects China will eventually follow suit and release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

“I think the Chinese would wait for a few months possibly, but then they would wrap up their case against the two Canadians and they would probably come home,” Mulroney said in an interview on Tuesday.

The detention of Kovrig and Spavor is widely seen as arbitrary retaliation against Canada for the arrest of Meng, who is wanted on fraud charges in the United States.

If Meng’s case instead proceeds to the next stage, Mulroney said he worries that China may choose to more actively prosecute the two Canadians on the national security charges they face.

But while Meng’s arrest in December 2018 was a lightning rod for the collapse of Canada-China relations, Mulroney said he believes China’s behaviour over the past year has had the effect of “decoupling” the case from its initial influence on bilateral relations.

China’s interference in Hong Kong and other events have caused Canadians to become disenchanted with the idea or goal of returning to some kind of “golden status quo” with the Asian superpower, he said.

“I think if Ms. Meng were to go back to China, it would probably mean good news on the part of the two Michaels but I don’t think it would or should change Canada-China relations,” said Mulroney, who is also a distinguished fellow with the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

“I think even the most ardent China boosters have been forced to reconsider things and I think have been forced to admit that there’s no going back to a golden status quo ante. It never existed and China is anything but a normal partner.”

READ MORE: China pushes back against efforts by Canada to get Taiwan access at WHO

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court is scheduled to release her ruling on the issue of so-called double criminality on Wednesday in Vancouver.

The legal arguments centre on whether the allegations Meng is facing in the United States would be a crime in Canada.

The decision could lead to her release or it could start a new round of legal arguments, including on whether her arrest at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018 was unlawful.

The United States has charged her with fraud over allegations she violated American sanctions against Iran, which she and the Chinese telecommunications giant have denied.

Meng’s lawyers have argued the court should dismiss the case because Canada has rejected similar sanctions, while the Crown has said the judge’s role is to determine if there’s evidence of fraud.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that Canada has continued to engage diplomatically both with the United States and China over the issues surrounding Meng, Kovrig and Spavor.

“One of the good things about having a truly independent justice system is that we don’t need to apologize or explain for the decisions taken by our independent justice system,” he said.

“We have our confidence in that system, in its independence and we of course will continue to abide by and defend our system.”

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian described Meng’s arrest during a news conference Tuesday as political and warned of consequences if she is not released.

“The U.S. and Canada abused their bilateral extradition treaty and arbitrarily took compulsory measures against a Chinese citizen without cause. This is entirely a serious political incident that grossly violates the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizen,” Zhao said in a transcription published online by the ministry.

“The Canadian side should immediately correct its mistake, release Ms. Meng and ensure her safe return to China at an early date so as to avoid any continuous harm to China-Canada relations.”

Mulroney said many Canadians’ perspectives on China have likely shifted amid stories of human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, interference in Hong Kong and the treatment of the two Canadian detainees.

But whatever happens in the Vancouver courtroom won’t have a measurable impact on China’s view of Canada, he said.

“China has always seen Canada as a small country, as a dependency of the United States, as a country that it has certain interests in but not one who should arrest someone who is virtually a princess in Chinese society,” he said.

Yves Tiberghien, director and associate professor of the Institute of Asian Research and Political Science at the University of British Columbia, said Canada is one of many countries that has been caught up in U.S. extradition cases related to sanction violations in recent years.

Whatever the ruling, it’s an opportunity to show the strength of the legal system. And if the decision falls in Meng’s favour, it won’t likely damage Canada-U.S. relations thanks to a shared respect for the rule of law, he said.

“The hopeful, best impact would be to demonstrate worldwide that we have a legal system that’s impartial and it was wrong to have bluster and all this anger,” he said.

“This is the fork in the road, this is an interesting moment.”

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

China

Just Posted

BC Ferries has announced the welcoming back onboard of recreational travellers on June 15 after the provincial travel restrictions were lifted. (Courtesy of BC Ferries)
BC Ferries welcomes back recreational passengers

The ferries corp will relax mask-wearing in outdoor spaces

Nic Pirillo received $1,000 Youth WORK Apprenticeship Award presented to him by Erik Brooke and Catlin Chandler of Broadwater Industries, in front of the boat Pirillo built in his free time using newly acquired skills. (Photo: supplied)
Learning and earning with apprenticeship

Nic Pirillo graduated in 2020 and was awarded the Youth WORK Trades award

According to the BC Centre of Disease Control epidemiology mapping from May 30 to June 5, there was an increase of one case in the Prince Rupert area after a three-week stability of no new cases. (Image: supplied BC CDC)
Prince Rupert second dose vaccination clinic to run from June 14 to July 9

Volunteers needed for P.R. immunization clinic, recipients must register and cases back up to one

Capt. Portugal was getting into the festive spirit out working for the City of Prince Rupert and celebrating Seafest 2021, on June 12. During regular business hours Capt. Portugal is known as David Costa. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Searching out fun in the sun for Seafest 44

Families and friends can participate in weekend COVID-19 friendly activities

Seafest is underway with a sunfest theme from June 11 to 13 in Prince Rupert. Alex Hoogendorn vice president of Prince Rupert Special Events is creating sunny times making feature for the decorating contest with his son Caleb Hoogendorn on June 4. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Seafest 44 plans a sunfest June 11 to 13 in Prince Rupert

All events in festival are COVID-19 safe, social distancing and health protocols approved by N.H.A.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read