To Get Back Arrested Executive, China Uses a Hardball Tactic: Seizing Foreigners


While the Canadian courts heard arguments, there were hints that Washington and Beijing were trying to find common ground.Negotiations between Ms. Meng’s team and the Justice Department began more than a year ago, said one person familiar with the Justice Department’s negotiations with her.

At the State Department, the two Canadians appeared to be a priority among human rights cases. When Wendy R. Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, attended talks in China in July, she “raised the cases of American and Canadian citizens,” the department said at the time.

Last week, President Biden held a telephone conversation with China’s leader, Xi Jinping. Neither side gave details, but Mr. Xi’s public comments suggested that he wanted to decrease tensions. The two sides, Mr. Xi said according to China’s official summary, should “bring China-U.S. relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible.”

Public resolution, though, may have been slowed by Canada’s recent election. The prime minister, Mr. Trudeau, reclaimed office in the election last week, though he failed to win a commanding majority in Parliament.

The Chinese government’s hardball tactics may have been successful in springing Ms. Meng, but they appear to have created lasting odium in Canada, showing the political costs of seizing foreign nationals. More than 70 percent of Canadian respondents to a Pew Research Center poll this year had an unfavorable view of China. Resistance to purchasing Huawei equipment there has grown.

But under Mr. Xi, Chinese officials have become bolder in rejecting Western criticism. They have said that Ms. Meng’s arrest was rankly political and appeared willing to go to great lengths to ensure that she did not face trial in the United States.

“This was the political persecution of a Chinese citizen with the goal of crushing a Chinese high-tech enterprise,” a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, said in a statement about Ms. Meng on Saturday. “The actions by the United States and Canada were classic arbitrary detention.”



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