Trump envoy to Canada says Huawei arrest not over politics


OTTAWA — Donald Trump’s envoy to Canada says China’s rise might have worrying implications for North American workers but she says the U.S. pursuit of of a Huawei executive is a separate legal matter.

Ambassador Kelly Craft says there is “absolutely” no political motive behind the controversial arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese telecom giant’s chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder.

However, Craft says, her government insisted on inserting a new provision into the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to strengthen the continent’s economy against China’s. The controversial new clause calls on all three North American partners to notify each other if they engage in free-trade talks with a non-market economy, widely understood to mean China.

Craft spoke to reporters in Ottawa today as Meng’s bail hearing resumes in Vancouver. Canada arrested Meng on Dec. 1 at the Vancouver airport at the request of the U.S., causing a major disruption in relations between the two North American neighbours and China. The United States wants Meng to face charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

The arrest came the same day presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day ceasefire in a tariff war over Beijing’s technology policy. It prompted concern that trade talks might be derailed, but Beijing indicated Tuesday they are going ahead.

Earlier today, China’s foreign minister vowed to protect its citizens abroad. Beijing will “spare no effort” to protect against “any bullying that infringes the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a conference in Shanghai.

Wang didn’t mention Meng by name. A Chinese government spokesman said Wang was referring to cases of all Chinese abroad, including Meng’s.

— with files from the Associated Press

The Canadian Press