By Ken Stone, World BEYOND War, February 22, 2021
March 1 marks the resumption of hearings in Vancouver in the extradition trial of Meng Wanzhou. It also marks an event by her supporters in Canada, determined to block her deportation to the USA where she would stand trial again on fraud charges that could potentially put her in jail for over 100 years.
By March 1, Meng Wanzhou will have spent two years and three months in detention, accused of no crime in Canada. Her company, Huawei Technologies, of which she is Chief Financial Officer, is likewise not charged with any crime in Canada. In fact, Huawei has a very good reputation in Canada, where it has created some 1300 very high-paying tech jobs as well as a state-of-the-art research and development centre, and has voluntarily worked with the Canadian government to increase connectivity for the mostly indigenous peoples of Canada’s North.
The arrest of Meng Wanzhou was a colossal blunder by the Trudeau government, executed at the request of the now, almost-universally-discredited Trump Administration, which blatantly admitted that she was being held hostage as a bargaining chip in Trump’s trade war on China. There was some speculation, when Meng’s extradition trial was adjourned for three months last December, that an out-of-court settlement might be reached before March 1. The Wall Street Journal caused a media frenzy when it floated a trial-balloon story that the US Department of Justice had proposed a plea deal for Ms. Meng. International lawyer, Christopher Black, deflated the balloon in an interview with The Taylor Report. And nothing came of that trial balloon so far.
Others speculated that, with his new administration in Washington, President-elect Biden might withdraw the US request for Meng’s extradition in an attempt to reset relations with China with a clean slate. But, so far, no request withdrawal has been put forward and instead Biden has ramped up tensions with China over Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the South China Sea, and also repeated allegations of genocide by China against its Uyghur Muslim population.
Still others thought that Justin Trudeau might grow a backbone, demonstrate some independence of foreign policy for Canada, and unilaterally end the extradition process against Meng. According to Canada’s Extradition Act, the Minister of Immigration can, completely according to the rule of law, terminate an extradition proceeding at any point with a stroke of his pen. Trudeau has been under pressure by old Liberal Party stalwarts, former cabinet ministers, and retired judges and diplomats, who publicly urged him to release Meng and reset relations with China, which is Canada’s second largest trading partner. They hoped as well, by releasing Meng, that Trudeau might secure the release of Michael Spavor and Kovrig, who were arrested on espionage charges in China.
Two months ago, Meng Wanzhou’s lawyer applied for a loosening of her bail conditions to allow her to move around the Vancouver region unescorted during the day. Currently, she is monitored 24 hours a day by security guards and an ankle GPS monitoring device. For this surveillance, she is reputed to pay well more than $1000 per day. She did so because, if the trial resumes on March 1, it could drag on, with appeals, for several years. Two weeks ago, the court rejected Ms. Meng’s request.
The economic cost to Canada of deteriorating relations with China so far has meant losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars for Canadian farmers and fishers as well as the termination of a Sino-Canadian project to make Covid-19 vaccines in Canada. But that picture will worsen if the Trudeau government gives into the warnings of the Five Eyes intelligence network, as expressed in the infamous Wagner-Rubio letter of October 11, 2018 (just six weeks before Meng’s arrest), to exclude Huawei from the deployment of a 5G network in Canada. Such an exclusion, according to Dr. Atif Kubursi, Professor Emeritus of Economics at McMaster University, would be a clear violation of WTO rules. It would also further estrange Canada from positive diplomatic and trade relations with China, which now boasts the largest trading economy in the world.
Canadians are increasingly alarmed that we are being conditioned by every one of the parliamentary political parties and the mainstream media for a new cold war with China. On February 22, 2021, the House of Commons will vote on a Conservative motion officially declaring China’s oppression of the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs a genocide, despite the fact that the evidence of such a crime was invented by Andrew Zenz, an operative working as a sub-contractor to the US Central Intelligence Agency. Bloc, Green, and NDP members spoke for the resolution. On Feb 9, Green Party leader Anamie Paul called for the Beijing Winter Games, slated for Feb 2022, to be relocated to Canada. Her call was endorsed by Erin O’toole, Conservative Party leader, as well of several MP’s and Quebec politicians. For his part, on February 4, Canada’s immigration minister announced that Hong Kong residents will be able to apply for new open work permits as part of its program to create pathways towards Canadian citizenship. Mendecino noted “Canada continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong, and is deeply concerned about the new National Security Law and the deteriorating human rights situation there.” Finally, Canada is well on the way to procuring $77b. worth of new fighter jets (lifetime costs) and $213b. worth of warships, designed to project Canada’s military power far from our shores.
Cold wars between nuclear-armed military alliances can easily turn into hot wars. That’s why the Cross-Canada Campaign to FREE MENG WANZHOU is planning a panel discussion for March 1 at 7 pm ET, entitled, “The Arrest of Meng Wanzhou and the New Cold War on China.” The panelists include William Ging Wee Dere (leading activist for the redress of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act), Justin Podur (professor and blogger, “The Empire Project), and John Ross, (Senior Fellow, Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies and economic advisor to former Mayor Ken Livingstone of London, UK.) The moderator is Radhika Desai (Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, U of Manitoba).
Please join us on the World BEYOND War platform on March 1 with simultaneous translation into French and Mandarin. Here’s the registration link: https://actionnetwork.org/events/newcoldwaronchina/
And here are the promotional flyers in French, English, and simplified Chinese:
Ken Stone is a longtime anti-war, anti-racist, environmental, and social justice advocate in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He is Treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War.