WASHINGTON - China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing on Sunday to lodge a "strong protest" over the arrest of a Chinese technology executive in Canada and Washington's demand that she be extradited to the United States to stand trial on fraud charges.
China called the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, telecom giant Huawei Technologies's chief financial officer, "extremely bad" and demanded that the U.S. cancel its extradition request linked to allegations that she broke U.S. laws prohibiting trade with Iran.
Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned U.S. ambassador Terry Branstad a day after calling in Canadian envoy John McCallum to protest Meng's arrest, at the U.S.'s behest, at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1.
The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement that Le told Branstad, "The actions of the U.S. seriously violated the lawful and legitimate rights of the Chinese citizen, and by their nature were extremely nasty."
Beijing urged the United States to "take immediate measures to correct wrong practices, and revoke the arrest warrant against the Chinese citizen."
Meng, if convicted in the U.S., faces up to 30 years' imprisonment, with a Canadian prosecutor alleging at a court hearing Friday in Vancouver that she committed fraud in 2013 by telling financial institutions that China's Huawei was not tied to a Hong Kong-based company, Skycom, which was allegedly selling U.S. goods to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against Tehran.
"Skycom was Huawei," the prosecutor alleged. Meng's lawyers denied the fraud allegation, saying Huawei had divested its interests in Skycom. Her bail hearing is resuming Monday.
News of the arrest of the 46-year-old Meng, along with the uncertain state of trade negotiations between China and the U.S., the world's two biggest economies, roiled international stock markets last week, with investors facing substantial losses across the globe.
Meng's arrest occurred on the same day U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were meeting in Buenos Aires over dinner to reach a 90-day truce on tit-for-tat tariffs the two countries have been imposing on exports of $300 billion of goods to each other.
But White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News on Sunday that Trump did not know about the arrest as he met with Xi.
"He didn't know," Kudlow said. "I'll just state that unequivocally. He learned way later."
The economic adviser said he could not guarantee that Meng won't be released as part of ongoing U.S. trade talks with Beijing. He described the case against Meng as a "law enforcement issue."
"I don't know how it's going to turn out...It seems to me there's a trade lane... and there's a law enforcement lane," Kudlow said. "They're different channels, and I think they will be viewed that way for quite some time."
While Meng was arrested the same day at the Trump-Xi meeting, a warrant for her arrest was issued in the U.S. on Aug. 22, with the Canadian prosecutor saying that a Canadian justice issued a warrant when Meng's travel plans became known.