China demands Canada free Huawei exec

A security guard gestures at the photographer outside the Canadian embassy in Beijing. (Reuters pic)

OTTAWA: China’s embassy in Canada said on Thursday that bilateral ties were suffering “gross difficulties,” and demanded Ottawa free Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

Relations have been icy since Meng was detained in Vancouver last December on a US warrant. China has since charged two Canadians with spying and halted imports of canola seed and meat products from Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said his government had no intention of backing down in the dispute and would defend Canada’s interests.

In a statement, the embassy said, “We will always defend Chinese and China’s interests, too… China-Canada relations now suffer gross difficulties and the Canadian side knows very well the root cause.

“Canada should release Ms Meng Wanzhou immediately and ensure her safe return to China, and bring bilateral relations back onto the right track,” the statement continued.

Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ottawa for talks on Thursday. Relations with China will be one of the main topics for discussion.