People hold a sign at a B.C. courthouse prior to the bail hearing for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer on Monday, December 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

People hold a sign at a B.C. courthouse prior to the bail hearing for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer on Monday, December 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canada-China relations turn icy over arrest of Chinese exec

The Huawei case has threatened to complicate U.S.-China efforts to resolve a bitter trade dispute.

Relations between Canada and China turned frostier Tuesday amid reports that the Chinese detained a former Canadian diplomat and as a Vancouver court resumed a hearing on whether to grant bail to a jailed top Chinese executive.

But U.S.-China tensions seemed to ease somewhat as the world’s two biggest economies confirmed they were working on talks to resolve a trade dispute that has shaken financial markets and threatens to slow global economic growth.

Relations between the three countries were shaken by the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of its founder. Canadian authorities detained Meng during a layover at the Vancouver airport at the request of the United States. The U.S. accuses Huawei of violating American economic sanctions against Iran.

The Huawei case has threatened to complicate U.S.-China efforts to resolve a bitter trade dispute.

But the Chinese government said Tuesday that its economy czar has discussed plans with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer for talks aimed at settling the two countries’ differences. Lighthizer’s office confirmed that he had spoken by phone with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

The news that trade negotiations may resume lifted stock markets around the world.

Just as the prospects for U.S.-China trade peace brightened, Canada’s relations with Beijing took a darker turn.

Reports surfaced Tuesday that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, now North East Asia senior adviser for the International Crisis Group, had been detained in China. The Brussels-based nongovernmental organization said in a statement that it is doing everything possible to obtain information about Kovrig’s whereabouts and to secure “his prompt and safe release.”

Kovrig previously worked as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing and Hong Kong and at the United Nations in New York. Canada’s Global Affairs department didn’t immediately respond with comment.

Canada had been bracing for retaliation for Meng’ arrest. The Canadian province of British Columbia cancelled a trade mission to China amid fears China could detain Canadians to put pressure on Ottawa over Meng’s detention.

In Vancouver, meanwhile, Meng was to appear in court for a third day Tuesday as she sought release on bail.

China vowed Tuesday that Beijing would “spare no effort” to protect against “any bullying that infringes the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a conference in Shanghai.

Wang didn’t mention Meng. But ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wang was referring to cases of all Chinese abroad, including Meng’s.

Washington accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It says Meng and Huawei misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

In a popular rallying cry in previous conflicts with the U.S., Japan, South Korea and other governments, Chinese nationalists called on consumers to support Chinese brands. But in an unusual development, an equally large number of internet users criticized such calls as reckless.

Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies, is the target of U.S. security concerns. Washington has pressured other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.

The U.S. and China have tried to keep Meng’s case separate from their wider trade dispute, but jitters among companies and investors have roiled global stock markets.

The United States has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports in response to complaints Beijing steals American technology and forces U.S. companies to turn over trade secrets.

Tariffs on $200 billion of those imports were scheduled to rise from 10 per cent to 25 per cent on Jan. 1. But Trump agreed to postpone those by 90 days while the two sides negotiate.

AP Business Writer Joe McDonald, AP researcher Yu Bing and APTN video producers Fu Ting and Olivia Zhang in Beijing contributed to this report.

Jim Morris, Rob Gillies And Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kennedy Nikel, applied marine biologist at Cascadia Seaweed, here seen in late September, shows off bull kelp (in her left hand) and rock weed. The company is spear-heading an annual seaweed festival scheduled for May 13-21, 2021, with Sidney council have signed off in principle. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Cascadia hopes to see Sidney host seaweed festival in May 2021

Council supports the idea in principle following a presentation by Cascadia Seaweed

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The O’Meara family – (left to right) Mari, Max, Adam and Rei – spent Saturday afternoon picking out the perfect tree. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read