VICTORIA — The detention of a top Huawei executive in Canada has derailed British Columbia’s trade mission to China.
The delegation led by B.C. Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson will no longer be stopping in China, and will instead end its trip after a visit to Japan.
The decision follows the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was detained while changing flights last week in Vancouver.
“The Province of British Columbia has suspended the China leg of its Asian forestry trade mission due to the international judicial process underway relating to a senior official at Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.,” the province said in a statement, adding that British Columbia values its strong trade relationship with China.
“It is anticipated that Minister Donaldson will work to reschedule events planned for the Chinese portion of this mission at the earliest convenient moment.”
B.C. Trade Minister Bruce Ralston declined an interview request Sunday and Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The United States is seeking to have Meng extradited on allegations that she tried to evade American trade sanctions on Iran. A bail hearing began in Vancouver on Friday, and Meng is spending the weekend in jail before it continues next week.
The Chinese government has warned Canada that if Meng is not released, the country will face “grave consequences.”
A report by the official Xinhua News Agency carried on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website said that Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng called in Canadian Ambassador John McCallum on Saturday over Meng’s detention.
Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies and has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns over its ties to the Chinese government. The U.S. has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.
Le told McCallum that Meng’s detention at the request of the United States was a “severe violation” of her “legitimate rights and interests.”
“Such a move ignores the law and is unreasonable, unconscionable, and vile in nature,” Le said in the statement.
“China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained Huawei executive … or face grave consequences that the Canadian side should be held accountable for,” Le said.
On Sunday, Le summoned U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad for a similar meeting, demanding Washington cancel the order for Meng’s arrest, Xinhua News Agency said.
Le called the United States to “immediately correct its wrong actions” and said it would take further steps based on Washington’s response.