Canada and China trade ‘spies’ ending the years-long confrontation

Meng Wanzhou, the top woman of Chinese telecom company Huawei, has left Canada after reaching an agreement with US Justice. Shortly after she left, China released two Canadians who had been detained since December 2018 on suspicion of espionage.

Meng Wanzhou (49) has been detained in Canada since December 2018, pending extradition to the United States. Meanwhile, she’s on her way to China.

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and was the company’s chief financial officer. She was arrested at Vancouver Airport in December 2018 because the United States suspected her of corporate espionage and fraud. It also allegedly violated the US embargo against Iran by being involved in the supply of computer equipment to the country.

On Friday it was announced that the U.S. Justice Department is dropping the charges against Meng. In return, the Huawei top woman accepted the responsibility for providing misinformation about trade with Iran. After the deal was concluded, a Canadian judge ruled that Meng was free to leave the country. A few hours later, she left for her native China. Shortly after, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the release of the “two Michaels”, two Canadians detained in China for espionage.

The American request to arrest and extradite Meng was in line with president Trump’s policy of confrontation. He believed that Huawei was undermining American interests by acting as an extension of the Chinese state. For example, the US accused Huawei of enabling espionage via the company’s network equipment. According to The New York Times, the agreement between Meng and the American justice system testifies to the more conciliatory attitude of the new president, Joe Biden.

Huawei has always denied doing anything wrong. According to Meng’s lawyers, she became a pawn in a game between the two superpowers. China has always urged the US to withdraw its extradition request for Meng to Canada.

Shortly after Meng was arrested, China arrested Canadian businessman Michael Spavor and his compatriot Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat. Spavor was sentenced to 11 years in prison in August. The arrests were seen as a reprisal for the detention of Meng. Meanwhile, the two are on their way to Canada. They are expected to arrive there in the course of Saturday.

The two Canadians were in cells where the light is always on and were hardly allowed to communicate with the outside world. Meng was held prisoner under more pleasant circumstances. She was allowed to go outside during the day, accompanied by guards, to eat in specially rented restaurants or shop in boutiques that keep other customers out.

About the author: Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson is a seasoned cybersecurity analyst with over a decade of experience in deciphering digital threats and vulnerabilities.

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