Ottawa, Dec 6 : China on Thursday demanded the immediate release of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of tech giant Huawei, whose arrest could escalate into a major diplomatic incident.
Calling Meng’s detention a “rights abuse”, Beijing urged both Ottawa and Washington to clarify their reasons for the action. She was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday and faces extradition to the US.
The row threatens to drive a further rift between the US and China even as they begin three months of negotiations aimed at de-escalating their bruising trade war. Canada confirmed Meng’s detention on Wednesday night.
Details of the arrest were not released but the US has been investigating Huawei over possible violation of sanctions against Iran, reports say.
She was provisionally detained by the Canadian Authorities on behalf of the US, when she was transferring flights in Canada, the BBC reported.
US stock futures and Asian shares tumbled after Meng’s arrest. Fearing that a US-China trade war truce was becoming unattainable, Europe’s main stock indices slumped to their lowest point since December 2016 in morning trading.
Also, indexes across Asia dropped sharply following the arrest.
“The detention without giving any reason violates a person’s human rights,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.
“We have made solemn representations to Canada and the US, demanding that both parties immediately clarify the reasons for the detention, and immediately release the detainee to protect the person’s legal rights.”
He added that China had been providing consular assistance to Meng since learning of her arrest.
Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa also lodged its protest over the arrest.
Huawei denied any wrongdoing by its corporate CFO Meng. She has sought a publication ban on the details of the arrest, which has been granted by the courts. Therefore, the company said it had little information about the charges and was “not aware of any wrongdoing by Meng”.
The tech giant said in a statement that “the company complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates”.
A court hearing has been set for Friday, according to Canada’s Justice Department.