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  • Canada's Immigration Minister John McCallum speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, October 31, 2016.

    Canada's Immigration Minister John McCallum speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, October 31, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 January 2019
Opinion

Canada's Ambassador to China delivered a strong statement rejecting extradition of Huawei's CFO to the U.S. and was asked to resign by PM Trudeau.

Canada’s Primer Minister Justin Trudeau received the resignation of the Ambassador to China John McCallum, as requested, after the diplomat delivered a staunch statement urging Canada to reject Huawei’s CFO Meng Wazhou’s extradition to the United States.

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“I think she has quite good arguments on her side. One, political involvement by comments from Donald Trump in her case,” said McCallum in a closed-door meeting with Chinese media.

He also stated there was an issue of applying U.S. law outside of its territorial jurisdiction. “Two, there’s an extraterritorial aspect to her case.”

This aspect is entrenched in a prolonged debate on the reach of U.S. jurisdiction. The Supreme Court’s recognition of a “presumption against territoriality,” limits the scope of the U.S. government’s application of law within its boundaries.

On the other hand, the statute of Foreign Corrupt Practices gives the government the ability to act against foreign countries by threatening companies that do business with them if they also operate in the U.S.

For financial expert Zachary Karabell, this tactic is only sensible where there are big power imbalances, “Arresting the No.2 executive of one of the world’s largest technology companies is an ineffective way to achieve policy aims — and a very effective way to complicate negotiations that matter rather more.”

Lastly, “And three, there’s the issue of Iran sanctions in her case and Canada does not sign on to these. So I think she has some strong arguments she can make before a judge,” said McCalllum.

For Toronto-based extradition lawyer Seth Weinstein, even in the case of some wrongdoing by Meng, there are legal boundaries to what Canada is able to do in her case: “If [Meng’s] conduct is, in fact, a violation of sanctions [and] we don’t subscribe to those sanctions, and don’t have an offense of that nature here in Canada (...) arguably it could then be advanced that she ought not to be extradited because there is no similar conduct here that’s criminal.”

After delivering these three arguments, McCallum did an unexpected about-face and went on to say he had “misspoken,” and conceded to Trudeau's resignation request.

Fears are mounting over a continued trade war between the United States and China and its impact on the world economy, as global expected growth is projected to be lower in 2019, according to International Monetary Fund forecasts.

The Chinese government has tried to calm fears about the arrest of Huawei CFO derailing the trade talks, while the United States has inflamed the situation by pursuing the extradition request.

The date limit for the extradition request coincides with the next round of negotiations on United States’ President Donald Trump trade war against China, which is set to be held in Washington D.C. on Jan. 30 and 31.

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