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China summons U.S. ambassador, warns Canada of 'grave consequences' if Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is not released

Meng faces extradition to the United States after being arrested in Vancouver last week. A bail hearing is set to resume on Monday.
Image: Meng Wanzhou
Meng Wanzhou, Executive Board Director of the Chinese technology giant Huawei, attends a session of the VTB Capital Investment Forum "Russia Calling!" in Moscow, Russia on Oct. 2, 2014.Alexander Bibik / Reuters

China summoned the U.S. ambassador on Sunday after warning Canada of "grave consequences" if a top executive of leading tech giant Huawei isn't released from detention on a U.S. arrest warrant.

Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng met with U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad to lodge a "strong protest" against the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, the ministry said in a statement.

Le urged the United States to withdraw its arrest warrant and warned the ambassador that further measures will depend on U.S. actions, the statement said.

Meng faces extradition to the United States after being arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Dec. 1. A bail hearing is set to resume on Monday.

Le's meeting with Branstad follows a similar meeting with Canadian Ambassador John McCallum.

Le told the state media outlet Xinhua News Agency on Saturday that he warned Canada should release Meng immediately or face "grave consequences" for violating Meng's rights and ignoring the law, calling the arrest "unreasonable, unconscionable, and vile in nature."

Meng's arrest came just as U.S.-China trade tensions showed signs of easing, with President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreeing to hold off on new tariffs to give more time for officials to reach an agreement.

But the arrest, which happened on the same day as the Trump-Xi meeting, caused markets to nosedive as fears of a prolonged trade war were renewed.

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.

"Only if the Canadian side corrects its mistake and immediately stops infringing upon the lawful, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen and gives a proper accounting to the Chinese people can it avoid paying a heavy price for this," it said in an editorial.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denied there were any political motivations or interference in Meng's arrest at a press conference last week. "We respect the independence of our judicial processes," he said.

Meng first appeared in a Vancouver court Friday for a bail hearing.

The court heard that the U.S. government believes she lied about her ties to a Hong Kong company that tried to circumvent trade sanctions against Iran.

A lawyer for the Canadian Justice Department told a Vancouver judge that Meng misled U.S. banks to believe her company had no ties to Skycom Tech, which tried to sell American computer equipment to an Iranian mobile phone company.

American investigators believe Skycom works as a subsidiary of Huawei, Canadian authorities said.

Meng faces up to 30 years in prison in the United States, making her an extreme flight risk, according to the Canadian government lawyer.

But Meng's attorney David Martin said she would submit to electronic monitoring and wouldn't skip bail.

The hearing is expected to continue Monday to determine whether Meng will remain in custody.

Huawei, which recently passed Apple as the second-biggest maker of cellphones after Samsung Electronics, has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. Under Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology.

Huawei's founder and Meng's father, Ren Zhengfei, is a former Chinese army engineer and part of the country's political elite.

The U.S. sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for Chinese spying and as commercial competitors. The Trump administration says they benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers.

Trump's tariff hikes this year on Chinese imports stemmed from complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. But American officials also worry more broadly about Chinese plans for state-led industry development they believe may erode U.S. industrial leadership.

U.S. leaders are also concerned that Beijing is using the growth of Chinese business abroad to gain strategic leverage.