Update on US-China relations
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Meng Wanzhou, the supposed heir of Chinese tech giant Huawei, returned home in a hailstorm at a nationalist ceremony on Saturday night after nearly three years of fighting extradition allegations from Vancouver.
His release coincided with two Canadians, Michael Covrig and Michael Spever, who returned to Canada less and less within hours of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirming their independence. Kovrig and Spawar were detained in China on national security charges in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest in December 2018, although Chinese officials have denied any involvement in the case.
The long-running diplomatic stalemate came after Meng agreed to a suspended prosecution agreement in the United States over alleged violations of sanctions against Iran, and showed that despite the dramatic deterioration of relations in recent years, geopolitical rivals are still able to resolve difficult disputes. .
According to people familiar with the talks, Chinese and U.S. diplomats agreed in July to form a working group to discuss separate cases, such as Meng, Kovrig and Spever. The public added that the deal was a way out of an otherwise tense meeting between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and her Chinese counterpart in Tianjin.
But the nationalist campaign surrounding Meng’s return to Huawei’s headquarters in the southern city of Shenzhen was an indication that Sino-US relations remained shaky, especially after Joe Biden announced a tripartite military agreement with Australia and the United Kingdom last week.
After hours of silence in the state-run media on Saturday during the release, Chinese state television broadcast live the return of Meng late at night. Thousands of people welcomed him and thanked President Xi Jinping for ensuring his independence.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuning condemned the U.S. lawsuit against Meng as “political harassment against a Chinese citizen” and “an act designed to defraud Chinese high-tech companies.” Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s chief financial officer and founder Ren Zhengfei, who previously served in the People’s Liberation Army and insisted that the company operate privately without state or military affiliation.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States had called for the immediate and unconditional release of all of them. [People’s Republic of China] Arbitrarily detained. ”
Although the Biden administration would like to use the resolution of the Meng case as a springboard for a more cooperative relationship, Van Jackson, a former Pentagon official at New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington, said the move was “too small.” . . When the value of a relationship is so deeply negative “
“Structurally, China and the United States have been established as adversaries and I don’t think the administration is willing to reject the precedent of greater competition,” he said. “It’s great news, and evidence that cooperation is possible in competition. It’s not just a game-changer. ”
Jonathan Sullivan, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, said the episode showed that the United States and Western countries need to understand that cooperating with China would “probably require compromise, perhaps uncomfortable.”
“Over the last few years, both sides have accepted what we have seen. And that has led to a rapid deterioration of relations, to the extent that people are already talking about a new Cold War. . . I’m not arguing that China should have a free hand to do what it pleases, but we need an efficient way to handle the competitive elements, ”he said.
Nevertheless, the termination of Meng’s case ended a drawn-out legal battle that helped worsen relations between China and the United States and Canada.
“This delayed prosecution agreement would put an end to the ongoing extradition process in Canada, which would have been possible had it not been for several months,” said Mark J. Lesko, acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of National Security. , Shortly after Meng’s hearing in Brooklyn.
Although Meng has not been convicted and has been released, the United States has acknowledged his victory in confusing HSBC with Huawei’s relationship with Harkong-based company Skycom.
“Meng’s admission confirms the finality of the government’s allegations in this financial fraud trial – that Meng and his fellow Huawei employees were engaged in a concerted effort to deceive the public about global financial institutions, the US government and Huawei’s activities in Iran,” he said. Nicole Bockman, U.S. Attorney in charge of the Eastern District of New York.
Despite an agreement with Meng prosecutors, U.S. authorities are reluctant to withdraw other allegations against Huawei, indicating that Washington’s 15-year war against Chinese technology groups – which began when it first tried to enter U.S. markets in the 2000s – is far from over.
“Our prosecution team continues to prepare for the trial against Huawei and we look forward to proving our case against the company in court,” said Alan Kohler, assistant director of the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Division.
Huawei has said it will continue to defend itself against the allegations.
Tom Mitchell in Singapore, Edward White in Seoul, Dmitry Sevastopollo and Lauren Federer in Washington, Stefania Palma in Montreal and Sun Yu in Beijing.