China in ‘strong protest’ to US over Meng Wanzhou arrest

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China has summoned the US ambassador in Beijing as it lodged “strong protests” over the detention of a Chinese technology executive in Canada.

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of smartphone giant Huawei, was arrested on 1 December while changing planes in Vancouver.

She is the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei and the growing row between the US and China over the case destabilised global stock markets last week as share prices suffered big falls.

Chinese foreign minister Le Yucheng has “lodged solemn representations and strong protests” with US ambassador Terry Branstad, according to the Xinhua news agency.

US ambassador Terry Edward Branstad (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R)
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US ambassador Terry Edward Branstad (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) in September 2017

Mr Le reportedly called Ms Meng’s detention “extremely egregious” and demanded the US rescinds its order for her arrest.

He also urged the US to “immediately correct its wrong actions” and said it would take further steps based on Washington’s response.

The move comes a day after Canadian ambassador John McCallum was summoned amid a similar protest warning of “grave consequences” if she was not released.

A Canadian prosecutor has urged a Vancouver court to deny bail to Ms Meng.

Huawei is the largest tech firm in China
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Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of telecoms equipment

Huawei is the world’s biggest supplier of telecoms equipment and has been the target of deepening US security concerns over its ties to the Chinese government.

Ms Meng, who was held at the request of the US and faces extradition there, is suspected of trying to evade US trade sanctions on Iran.

The electronics giant allegedly used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of those restrictions and there are claims she covered up her firm’s links.

The US also claimed she and Huawei misled American banks about its business dealings in the Middle East country.

The surprise arrest has raised doubts about whether a trade truce between Washington and Beijing will hold and whether the world’s two biggest economies can resolve the complicated issues that divide them.

America’s trade representative Robert Lighthizer has said US-China trade negotiations need to reach a successful conclusion by a “hard deadline” of 1 March next year or new tariffs will be imposed.

World markets are jittery over the prospects of a deepening row over China’s huge trade surplus with the US and American claims that China is stealing intellectual property and technology.

At a G20 summit last weekend in Argentina, President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day truce that delayed the planned US hike of tariffs on 1 January to 25% from 10% on $200bn of Chinese goods while they negotiate a trade deal.

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