China’s ‘princess of Huawei’ Meng Wanzhou faces her biggest battle yet

Linda J. Dodson

For the “princess of Huawei” the two years since her arrest have been challenging, as the telecoms firm has come under growing pressure from Western governments accusing it of spying on behalf of the Chinese government. The drama has even spilled over in the UK, where a decision was made last month to strip out all Huawei telecoms gear from 5G networks by 2027. Huawei has repeatedly denied all claims of espionage. 

But even as pressure from the US continues, Meng refuses to go down without a fight. 

The Huawei executive will appear in court on Monday for a week-long battle as she offers new arguments to make her case that US requests for her extradition are inherently political. Is she right?

“It is plain and obvious to the person in the street that this is Trump-orchestrated, that Ms Meng was a trade pawn in a Washington-Beijing trade negotiation,” says Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based lawyer who has followed the case closely. 

One key argument to emerge will centre on Meng’s treatment at the Canadian airport. Despite a warrant put out for her immediate arrest once she landed, the Huawei executive was allowed to go through customs before facing a four-hour interrogation, a source says.

Emails already unveiled in court show that officials from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police knew what Meng was wearing on her flight, raising suspicions that US national security officials, rather than law enforcement, were “involved throughout the process”.

“There’s no way they could know that other than from some sort of official in Asia who observed her entering the flight,” a source says. “Since those emails weren’t turned over by Canadian officials we would assume it’s a US official.”

In December last year, Huawei won a legal battle for the release of documents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (the country’s version of MI5) that would offer some insight into the communications Canadian officials had with US authorities.  

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