Canadian family temporarily detained in China as Huawei tensions grow

Ti-Anna Wang spoke with the 'Globe and Mail,' saying that Chinese authorities were 'unnecessarily cruel'


A Canadian woman, her husband and her infant daughter were detained for approximately two hours in China as Huawei tensions grow between Canada and China.

The Globe and Mail reported on January 16th, 2019, that Ti-Anna Wang and her family were detained in Beijing while transiting onto a connecting flight en route from Seoul to Toronto.

Wang told the Globe that six police officers boarded her aircraft and detained her and her family, in what appears to be the latest act of retaliation against Canada to force Canadian authorities to release Huawei’s global chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Canadian authorities arrested Meng on fraud-related charges on December 1st, 2018, while she was transiting to Mexico. She was granted bail but faces extradition to the U.S.

“I was escorted off, detained with my daughter and separated from my husband for almost two hours,” Wang said in an e-mail to the Globe and Mail.

“It was a shocking, terrifying and senseless ordeal with no purpose but to bully, punish and intimidate me and my family.”

In a later phone call with the Globe and Mail, Wang said that Chinese authorities were “unnecessarily cruel,” and would not allow her to take care of her 11-month-old daughter.

She noted that she asked authorities why she was being held captive when she had no intention of staying and was only transiting.

“They said they were investigating my case but they wouldn’t give me any information,” Wang said.

The Globe and Mail noted that Wang was barred from China last week, even though she had a visa to visit her father in August 2018.

Her father, who is a Chinese national and was kidnapped in Vietnam in 2002 and smuggled to China, is currently carrying out a life sentence in prison on espionage and terrorism charges.

Wang told the Globe and Mail that she thinks China punished her because of the dispute with Canada.

This was the third detention of a Canadian, without releasing them. Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were previously detained shortly after Meng’s arrest and are currently with Chinese authorities.

Huawei has been under the microscope for a while now after Meng’s arrest. The U.S. reportedly said Meng deceived international banks to funnel transactions between Huawei and Iran. Meng has maintained that Huawei has no connection or involvement.

Huawei has had close ties with Canada for the past 10 years and has extensively provided research and infrastructure for 5G technology, the next iteration of mobile cellular technology.

However, because of fear of cybersecurity attacks, the U.S. banned the company from providing 5G equipment in August 2018. Following the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have also banned the company.

According to a draft of China’s national intelligence law that was released in 2017, all Chinese companies “shall support, cooperate with and collaborate in national intelligence work, and maintain the secrecy of national intelligence work they are aware of.”

More recently, China also sentenced Canadian Robert Schellenberg on January 14th, 2019 to death for drug smuggling, reportedly as another form of retaliation.

Canadian teacher Sarah McIver was also detained but has been released.

On January 16th, 2019, foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement of gratitude for the support Canada has received from other countries.

“Our government has been energetically reaching out to our allies and explaining that the arbitrary detentions of Canadians are not just about Canada. They represent a way of behaving which is a threat to all countries,” Freeland said.

In response to Freeland’s concern Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on January 17th, 2019 that Freeland is too much in hurry to talk before thinking.

“I think your foreign minister may be in a hurry, and can’t help speaking without thinking,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in response to a question from a Canadian journalist.

“What threat has China posed to Canada?”

Hua added that Canada actually poses a threat to Chinese citizens by detaining Meng.

“It is understandable that Canada is a little worried, but we hope it will avoid speaking freely without thinking because its reputation and image would be badly damaged by such behaviours,” Hua said to the Canadian Press.

“And such remarks cannot help settle the issue, either.”

Conservative Member of Parliament Erin O’Toole said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be getting on the phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping because the situation is getting worse. O’Toole added that Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, Meng’s father, said Canada has always treated Meng with kindness.

Ren recently held his third public interview to assuage the public that Huawei is not spying on behalf of China and noted that he missed his daughter deeply.

Source: The Globe and Mail