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Meng Wanzhou trial major fork in the road for Canada-China ties: political scientist

Last Updated May 26, 2020 at 3:10 pm PST

FILE - Meng Wanzhou chief financial officer of Huawei leaves her home to go to B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on January 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou will appear in court Wednesday in Vancouver

Judge will rule qhether Meng will be extradited to the U.S or return home

A political scientist says the decision is likely to shake up the status quo in the bilateral relationship

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Canada’s ties with China is coming into sharp focus, as the B.C. Supreme Court is set to rule Wednesday on the fate of Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou.

Justice Heather Holmes will announce the next step in the extradition saga surrounding the Chinese tech executive and decide whether she will be extradited to the United States – where she’s accused of violating American sanctions against Iran – or be sent home.

UBC political scientist Yves Tiberghien says the decision is likely to shake up the status quo in the bilateral relationship between Canada and China.

“We know that the Chinese side is unhappy, but we are, actually, in a period of damage control. There’d be no further escalation at the moment,” he says.

Tiberghien says while the case itself has international implications, the judge will be ruling on a more narrow focus.

“This is entirely about dual criminality…and we know it’s a complex case because it’s about bank fraud but it’s also about Iran sanctions,” he explains.

If the judge upholds dual criminality, meaning the charges exist in Canada and the U.S. and are equivalent, Tiberghien says it would be a case of bank fraud. Or, he says, it could be decided there isn’t a case of dual criminality and it comes down to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The case has soured ties between Canada and China, as the Chinese government has insisted the Canadian government release Meng.

Tiberghien calls it a major fork in the road, saying the fate of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor who are still behind bars in China may hang in the balance.

“The worst case, is that the Chinese side has tied the case to the arbitrary detention of the two Micheals,” he says.

The detention of the two Canadians, who have been imprisoned since December 2018, has widely been seen as arbitrary retaliation against Canada for the arrest of Meng.

Her lawyers have argued the court should dismiss the case because Canada has rejected similar sanctions, while the Crown has said the judge’s role is to determine if there’s evidence of fraud.

If Holmes decides that Meng should be freed, the Canadian government could still file an appeal.

-With files from the Canadian Press