Politics

Trump says he'd interfere in Huawei case hours after U.S. envoy to Canada said case isn't political

U.S President Donald Trump's ambassador to Canada denied Chinese claims that there is political motive behind Canada's arrest of Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei's CFO, hours before Trump told Reuters he would be willing to intervene in the case if it would help his country's interests.

'This is a judicial process, it is a very delicate process,' says Kelly Craft

U.S. President Donald Trump is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft during his arrival for G7 Summit in La Baie, Que., in June. Craft and Trump appeared to be delivering mixed messages over the arrest in Canada of Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

U.S President Donald Trump's ambassador to Canada denied Chinese claims that there is political motive behind Canada's arrest of Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei's CFO, hours before Trump told Reuters he would be willing to intervene in the case if it would help his country's interests. 

"Whatever's good for this country, I would do," Trump said. 

Ambassador Kelly Craft began Tuesday saying a claim circulating in Chinese state media was "absolutely false" for suggesting that Meng Wanzhou's arrest in Canada was part of a political conspiracy engineered by Ottawa and Washington to punish Chinese tech firms or pressure Beijing over its trade practices.

Craft told Canadian journalists from her Ottawa residence that Meng's arrest and possible extradition to the United States are part of an ongoing "independent judiciary process" and that the situation is "very delicate."

"This is part of our judicial process. It is just a matter that I cannot comment on," she said.

Asked how she took Chinese threats of unspecified "consequences" for Canada over Meng's arrest, Craft again cited the need to respect the legal process.

"Once again, this is a judicial process, it is a very delicate process, and I don't want to be involved in something that is an ongoing independent judiciary process," she said. "(Canadian and American) law enforcement works very closely together."

Yet, hours later, in an interview with Reuters, Trump said he was willing to involve himself in that very same process if it would help U.S. security or trade interests. 

"If I think it's good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what's good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary," Trump said.

Trump also said the White House has spoken with the Justice Department about the case, as well as Chinese officials.

"They have not called me yet. They are talking to my people. But they have not called me yet," he said when asked if he has spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the case.

Warnings over Huawei

Meng. 46, is Huawei's chief financial officer, and also the daughter of the firm's founder. She was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1. She is wanted for extradition to the U.S. on allegations of fraud, including using a shell company to skirt international American sanctions on Iran over five years.

She will be released on $10 million bail — with five guarantors — as she awaits possible extradition to the United States on fraud charges, a B.C. Supreme Court justice ruled Tuesday.

Craft was also asked whether the Americans have talked to Canada about how it might cope with the diplomatic and economic fallout from banning Huawei from taking part in building Canada's 5G telecommunications network.

In a recent letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S.Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio urged him to keep Chinese tech out of the planned new high-speed network, warning that allowing Huawei into Canada's 5G would put intelligence-sharing between Canada and the U.S. at risk.

Craft kicked the question up the ladder: "We had spoken to all our allies about this issue. It's something that's between my administration and your administration. The Canadian government will make that decision based on their findings."

About the Author

Katie Simpson

Politics

Katie Simpson is a senior reporter in the Parliamentary Bureau of CBC News. Prior to joining the CBC, she spent nearly a decade in Toronto covering local and provincial issues.

With files from Reuters

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