Canada has arrested Huawei’s global chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, where she is facing extradition to the US in a move likely to exacerbate tensions between the US and China.
Meng Wanzhou, one of the vice-chairs on the Chinese technology company’s board and the daughter of the company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on 1 December and a court hearing has been set for Friday, according to Canada’s department of justice. The arrest is reportedly related to violations of US sanctions.
In a statement, the department confirmed Meng had been arrested and was facing extradition. “As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms. Meng,” it said.
US authorities have been investigating Huawei since at least 2016 for allegedly shipping US-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of US export and sanctions laws, sources told Reuters in April.
Huawei, one of the world’s largest makers of telecommunications network equipment, said in a statement that Meng had been “temporarily detained” and faced unspecified allegations” in the Eastern district of New York.
The company said it had complied with “all applicable laws and regulations where it operates,” including sanction laws.
“There has been very little information provided to Huawei on the specific allegations. Huawei is not aware of any misconduct by Ms. Meng,” Guo Ping, rotating CEO of the company said in a statement posted on his Wechat account on Thursday.
“The company believes the Canadian and US legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion,” he said.
The arrest comes days after president Donald Trump and president Xi Jinping held a meeting in Argentina where they agreed to steps to resolve the ongoing trade war between the world’s two largest economies. US stock futures tumbled, followed by Asian markets, after news of the arrest broke.
China’s embassy in Canada on Thursday said it resolutely opposes the arrest of Meng, and had lodged “stern representations” to the US and Canada. The embassy said such actions had “seriously harmed the human rights” of Meng.
“We will closely follow … and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” the embassy said in a statement.
Meng served on the board of a Hong Kong-based Skycom tech, which has business in Iran, according to corporate filings seen by Reuters. In 2013, Reuters found that the company, which attempted to sell embargoed Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator had closer ties to Huawei than was previously known.
Huawei – one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment and services providers – has also been tightly constrained in the US by worries it could undermine local competitors and that its phones and networking equipment, used widely in other countries, could provide Beijing with avenues for espionage.
Despite being essentially barred from the critical US market, Huawei surpassed Apple to become the world’s number two smartphone maker in the second quarter of this year and has market leader Samsung in its sights.