China on Thursday demanded the release of Meng “Sabrina” Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei who was arrested by Canadian officials as U.S. and Chinese officials were reaching a trade truce in Buenos Aires on December 1.
Meng is one of the highest profile executives in China. She is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the 74-year-old former military engineer who founded Huawei decades ago, and is thought to be being groomed to succeed him and leader of the company.
“The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim,” a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Canada said in a statement. “The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou.”
Huawei is the top mobile phone maker in China. Beijing considers it a “national champion” and it is central to the country’s “Made in China 2025” scheme to dominate high-tech manufacturing. As one of China’s few truly global brands, it has become something of a symbol for the nation around the world. The company is also the central actor in China’s bid to dominate next-generation 5G telecommunications technology.
Canadian officials arrested Meng at the request of U.S. officials, according to reports. She is expected to be extradited to New York, where she will face charges of violating sanctions against Iran.
The state-run Global Times said the arrest was a violation of the spirit of the trade truce reached during a dinner Saturday night between President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the end of the Group of 20 meeting in Argentina.
“Despite incomplete information about the incident, the US move obviously goes against the consensus reached between the heads of state of China and the US in Argentina,” the Global Times said in an editorial.