China urges Canada to free Huawei CFO or face consequences
Canada's arrest of the executive likely to lead to "deep freeze" in relations
BEIJING China warned Canada on Saturday that there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Huawei Technologies' global chief financial officer, calling the case "extremely nasty".
Ms Meng Wanzhou, 46, was arrested in Canada on Dec 1 and faces extradition to the US, which alleges that she covered up her company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions.
She is the daughter of Huawei's founder.
If extradited to the US, Ms Meng would face charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions, a Canadian court heard on Friday, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.
No decision was reached at the extradition hearing after nearly six hours of arguments and counter-arguments, and the hearing was adjourned until today.
In a statement, China's Foreign Ministry said that Vice-Foreign Minister Le Yucheng had issued the warning to release Ms Meng to Canada's Ambassador in Beijing, summoning him to lodge a "strong protest".
Mr Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said on Saturday there is "nothing to add beyond what the Minister said yesterday".
Ms Freeland told reporters on Friday that the relationship with China is important and valued, and Canada's Ambassador in Beijing has assured the Chinese that consular access will be provided to Ms Meng.
When asked about the possible Chinese backlash after the arrest of Huawei's CFO, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that Canada has a good relationship with Beijing.
Canada's arrest of Ms Meng at the request of the US while she was changing flights in Vancouver was a serious breach of her lawful rights, Mr Le said.
The move "ignored the law, was unreasonable" and was in its very nature "extremely nasty", he added.
"China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained person and earnestly protect her lawful, legitimate rights, otherwise Canada must accept full responsibility for the serious consequences caused."
The statement did not elaborate.
"There will probably be a deep freeze with the Chinese in high-level visits and exchanges," Mr David Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to China, said on Friday.
"The ability to talk about free trade will be put in the ice box for a while. But we are going to have to live with that. That is the price of dealing with a country like China."
On Sunday, the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily said that while China would not "cause trouble", it also did not fear trouble and that nobody should underestimate China's determination on this case. - REUTERS