TORONTO -- An extradition hearing begins Monday in a Vancouver courtroom for Huawei top executive Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company's founder. Canada arrested Meng while she was changing planes at Vancouver's airport in late 2018. The U.S. wants her extradited to face fraud charges. Her arrest arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China's rise.
The first phase of Meng's extradition hearing will last about five days. U.S. authorities allege Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to evade U.S. trade sanctions on Iran. The initial stage of the hearing will deal with the issue of whether the crime she's accused of in the U.S. is also a crime in Canada. Canada does not have similar sanctions on Iran but fraud is a crime in both countries. Meng is free on bail of and is living in one of the two Vancouver mansions she owns.
Huawei has become a focus of attention of U.S. law enforcement and Washington. Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies and some analysts say Chinese companies have flouted international rules and norms amid allegations of technology theft. Washington also has security concerns because of Huawei's ties to the Chinese government. The U.S. has pressured other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information. Huawei is also viewed as a commercial competitor.
The second phase of Meng's case, scheduled for June, will consider defense allegations that Canada Border Services, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI violated her rights while she was detained by collecting evidence before she was arrested and told of her alleged crimes. The extradition case could take years to resolve if there are appeals. Nearly 90 percent of those arrested in Canada on extradition requests from the U.S. were surrendered to U.S. authorities between 2008 and 2018.
Meng's arrest set off a diplomatic furor between Canada and China and complicated high-stakes trade talks between the U.S and China. Beijing is demanding her release and has detained two Canadians in apparent retaliation. She was arrested the same day U.S. President Donald Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks. China and the U.S. just reached a "Phase 1" trade agreement last week, but most analysts say any meaningful resolution of the main U.S. allegation — that Beijing uses predatory tactics in its drive to supplant America's technological supremacy — could require years of contentious talks. Some analysts see the trade war as only a symptom of a long term US-China competition.