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Meng Wanzhou: Oil paintings and books for Huawei executive fighting extradition

BBC Technology 02 Dec 2019 07:22
Meng Wanzhou leaves her home to appear in British Columbia supreme court for a hearing, in Vancouver, British ColumbiaImage copyright Reuters

A Chinese Huawei executive who was arrested in Canada a year ago has published an open letter detailing her life on bail and thanking supporters.

Meng Wanzhou - the chief financial officer and daughter of Huawei's founder - is fighting extradition to the US on charges of violating sanctions against Iran.

In her widely read letter, she said she had time to "read a book" and "complete an oil painting" while on bail.

Her arrest sparked a diplomatic row.

China has always said the charges against Ms Meng are politically motivated.

Shortly after her arrest, two Canadians were detained in China, but Beijing says the cases are not related to Ms Meng.

Michael Spavor, a consultant with links to North Korea, and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat who works for an NGO, are accused of spying - although Canada has called their detention "arbitrary".

In April, it was reported that both men were being interrogated for between six to eight hours a day, and were sometimes subject to 24-hour artificial lighting.

What has Meng Wanzhou said?

In it, she thanked her supporters in Canada, saying the applause in the public gallery after the court granted her bail, 11 days into her detention, had "made her burst into tears".

"When I was in Shenzhen [in China], time used to pass by very quickly," Ms Meng wrote on Sunday night.

Now, she wrote, time passes so slowly "I have enough time to read a book from cover to cover. I can take the time to discuss minutiae with my colleagues or to carefully complete an oil painting".

She also praised "the kindness of people here in Canada", and "the kindness of the correctional officers and inmates at the Alouette Correctional Center for Women" where she was detained.

She made no comment on the allegations in the letter.

The two leaders came to an understanding and a truce was signed - but thousands of miles away in Canada, a new battle was just beginning.

For China, Ms Meng's arrest was seen as an attack like no other. If Huawei is the crown jewel of Chinese tech, then Ms Meng is its princess.

Image copyright AFP

Their detention led to a diplomatic and trade row, with China blocking tens millions of dollars' worth of Canadian pork and vegetable oil exports.

In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused China of "using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals".

"In particular, I expressed my concern and the concern of all Canadians regarding the conditions of their detention," Francois-Philippe Champagne said.

But China has rejected accusations of arbitrary detention, saying the two Canadians had "engaged in suspected activities endangering national security".

"These two cases they are very much different in nature," he said. "For those two Canadian citizens there is no arbitrary arrest at all."

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HuaweiMeng WanzhouMs MengCanadaChina