The formal extradition hearings that will help decide the fate of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou got under way in Vancouver on Monday, more than a year after her arrest, in a case that has infuriated Beijing and symbolises challenges to the geopolitical order posed by China’s rise.
According to a new Reuters report, Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, appeared behind layers of bulletproof glass in the high-capacity, high-security courtroom 20 of the British Columbia Supreme Court complex.
The hearing kicked off with Richard Peck, one of her defense lawyers, arguing that US sanctions against Iran are at the core of this case and any attempt to claim otherwise is a “facade.”
“Would we be here in the absence of U.S. sanctions law?” Peck asked the room. “In our respectful submission, the response is ‘No.'”
The extradition trial does not aim to prove or disprove the United States’ allegations against Meng, only to determine whether — if true — the allegations meet the Canadian standard required for extradition.
The hearing is expected to last five days. The court will focus on the “double criminality” test — for Meng to be extradited, the allegations against her must be considered crimes in both the US and Canada. If the judge rules that the double criminality requirement is not met, Meng will be released.
Washington accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions. It says Meng committed fraud by misleading HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
Huawei represents China’s progress in becoming a technological power and has been a subject of US security concerns for years. The Chinese government views Meng’s case as an attempt to contain the Asian superpower’s rise.
“Our government has been clear. We are a rule of law country and we honor our extradition treaty commitments,” Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a Cabinet retreat in Manitoba. “It is what we need to do and what we will do.”