The freeing of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou from house arrest in Canada and the release of two Canadian nationals from a Chinese prison will not lead to a fundamental shift in Beijing’s relationship with Washington.
“The release is a good sign, but it does not resolve the fundamental differences between the two sides. Both the U.S. and China are in for a tumultuous relationship for years to come,” said Rana Mitter, professor of modern Chinese history and politics at Oxford University.
Meng Wanzhou’s return to China and the release of the Canadians may fix the tone a bit, but fundamentally both superpowers are preparing for a more protracted and sensitive serious confrontation, stressed, in turn, Alexander Gabuev, head of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific program at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
Since late 2018, Huawei’s CFO has been under house arrest in Canada awaiting extradition to the United States. U.S. authorities believed she had defrauded HSBC by lying about Huawei’s transactions in Iran, putting Britain’s largest bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions. Toward the end of last week, however, Meng agreed to a deal with the U.S. Justice Department, which paved the way for her release by Ottawa and immediate return home, accompanied by China’s ambassador to Canada.
On the same day, China released Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, accused by Beijing of espionage. After pleading guilty to all the alleged crimes, both were released on medical bail and immediately flew back to Canada.