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China Demands Release of Telecom Executive Arrested in Canada

December 7, 2018

China is demanding Canada immediately free a top executive of a giant telecom firm arrested last Saturday on a U.S. warrant.

The charges against Meng Wanzhou are unclear. But Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper says she is suspected of trying to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran something U.S. officials have been suspecting about her company, Huawei, for the last two years.

Police arrested Meng at the Vancouver airport. She faces possible extradition to the United States after a bail hearing on Friday.

A Chinese statement said Meng did not break any U.S. or Canadian laws and that Beijing expected Canada to "immediately correct the mistake" and release her from custody.

Meng was arrested on the same day President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the G-20 summit in Argentina and announced a 90-day truce in their trade war.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton told National Public Radio that he knew of Meng's pending arrest in advance and was unclear whether Trump knew of it when he met with Xi.

Bolton added that the suspected theft of U.S. intellectual property by Chinese firms will be a major part of trade talks with China.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been having his own trade troubles with China, said he also knew in advance about the arrest. But he called it a judicial matter and said politics had nothing to do it.

Meng is Huawei's chief financial officer and the daughter of the company's founder.

Huawei is the world's largest supplier of equipment used by telephone and internet providers, and the world's third-biggest manufacturer of smartphones.

The Trump administration said that not only do Huawei and other Chinese firms have an unfair advantage on the world market because of government subsidies, but they are also possible national security threats from suspected spying.

The U.S. nearly put another large Chinese firm, ZTE, out of business earlier this year when it banned the company from using U.S. technology.

Officials discovered ZTE was selling its products with U.S. technology to Iran and North Korea.

ZTE agreed to pay a $1 billion fine and replace its entire board of directors.

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