China Hints Jailed Canadians May Get Freedom If Huawei Exec Let Go

A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says two jailed Canadian men may be let go, if Canada intervenes in the case of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou.

After Meng was arrested in Vancouver back in late 2018, China similarly arrested Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Both men were recently charged with spying by the Chinese government.

According to the Globe and Mail, Zhao Lijian said Ottawa has the power to set Meng free, if it intervenes in the current judicial process.

“Such options are within the rule of law and could open up space for resolution to the situation of the two Canadians,” said Zhao, according to a translation of his remarks.

The spokesman was referring to recent remarks by former Liberal justice minister Allan Rock and former Supreme Court judge Louise Arbour to the media, citing how the Canadian government has the authority to intervene in Meng’s case to let her walk free.

Zhao also leveraged recent comments made by Michael Kovrig’s wife to news outlets, who similarly said Canada has the power to step in and stop Meng’s U.S. extradition process.

While Beijing has denied there was a connection between Meng’s arrest in Vancouver and the capture of two Canadian Michaels, it’s now clear the country is pressuring Canada for a prisoner swap.

“Even if it is a judicial case as the Canadian side claims, the Canadian justice minister has the authority to stop the extradition process at any point, as Kovrig’s wife said. This shows that the Canadian government can actually handle this incident in a just manner according to Canadian laws,” said Zhao.

Canada has yet to decide whether to ban Huawei 5G hardware, despite facing pressure from Five Eyes allies and security officials about the risks of the Chinese hardware, seen as susceptible to spying by the Chinese Communist Party.

Recently, Bell and Telus announced they would use Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung for their first 5G networks, joining Rogers in avoiding Huawei gear for next-generation wireless networks. SaskTel recently said it would also skip Huawei 5G gear for its 5G networks.