China demands release of tech giant executive after arrest on U.S. extradition charges

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By Dawn Liu, Linda Givetash and Alexander Smith

BEIJING — China demanded the release of a senior executive at tech giant Huawei Technologies after she was detained in Canada on extradition charges to the U.S.

The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei, spooked investors with U.S. stocks tumbling on fears of a flare-up in Chinese-U.S. tensions.

She was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Dec. 1.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said officials have been contacted both in the U.S. and Canada to demand Meng’s release. Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the ministry, said her detention needed to be explained, and both countries had to “effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of the person concerned.”

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that U.S. authorities are investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a member of the Senate banking committee and a subcommittee on national security and international trade and finance, praised Canada for detaining Meng while accusing Huawei of “breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran.”

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.Huawei via AP

“China is working creatively to undermine our national security interests, and the United States and our allies can’t sit on the sidelines,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

When asked about the Iran reports, a spokesperson for privately held Huawei told NBC News in a statement that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations.”

Meng’s detention came after President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping over the weekend and agreed to hold fire on the trade war between the two countries. On Wednesday, China’s Commerce Ministry said the talks had been “very successful,” but the statement was vague on a 90-day deadline for negotiations touted by Washington.

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