U.S. is ‘trouble maker’ in China-Canada relationship, envoy says

No word on whether China would retaliate against Canada over latest court decision

File photo of Cong Peiwu, China’s ambassador to Canada, speaking at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa on Nov. 22, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Blair Gable)

Ottawa | Reuters — The United States is using the case of a senior Chinese telecoms executive who was arrested in Vancouver on a U.S. warrant 18 months ago to create friction between China and Canada, China’s envoy to Canada said on Thursday.

“The U.S. has been taking advantage of Canada, and the U.S. is the trouble maker of China-Canada relations,” Cong Peiwu, China’s ambassador in Ottawa, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese citizen and daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on a bank fraud warrant issued by U.S. authorities. Meng says she is innocent.

Asked whether he thought Canada’s judiciary was independent, Cong pointed to comments U.S. President Donald Trump made in December 2018, which he said showed the Meng case was “a political incident rather than a simple judicial case.”

In that interview, Trump said he would intervene with the U.S. Justice Department in the Meng case if it would help secure a trade deal with Beijing.

“We believe that actually this is a grave political incident plotted by the United States to bring down Chinese high-tech companies,” the ambassador said.

Cong did not say whether China would retaliate for a British Columbia court’s decision last month, which will prolong Meng’s legal battle to avoid extradition.

Shortly after Meng’s arrest, Beijing detained two Canadians on national security charges and halted imports of canola seed.

When asked about the Meng case, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has emphasized the country’s judiciary is independent, while calling for the release of the two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat.

The Chinese envoy said the two detained Canadians were “in good health,” but consular visits were still suspended due to coronavirus restrictions and “will be resumed when the situation gets better.”

— Steve Scherer is a Reuters correspondent in Ottawa.

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