- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 11, 2018

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – President Trump undercut efforts to distinguish between trade talks and the Huawei case.

In an interview with Reuters, he said Tuesday that he would consider intervening in the Justice Department’s case against Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder, if it would be in the interest of U.S. national security or help forge a trade deal with Beijing.

Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, called Trump’s comments troubling.

“Canada is acting in good faith, according to the law, in response to a U.S. extradition request,” Paris tweeted.

The U.S. and China have tried to keep Meng’s case separate from their wider trade dispute and suggested Tuesday that talks to resolve their differences may resume.

The Chinese government said its economy czar had discussed plans with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer for talks aimed at settling the two countries’ differences. Lighthizer’s office confirmed he had spoken by phone with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

A Canadian court granted bail on Tuesday to a top Chinese executive arrested at the United States’ request in a case that has set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries and complicated high-stakes U.S.-China trade talks.

Hours before the bail hearing in Vancouver, China detained a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in apparent retaliation for the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder.

After three days of hearings, a British Columbia justice granted bail of $10 million Canadian (US$7.5 million) to Meng, but required her to wear an ankle bracelet, surrender her passports, stay in Vancouver and its suburbs and confine herself to one of her two Vancouver homes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The decision was met with applause in the packed courtroom, where members of Vancouver’s Chinese community had turned out to show support for Meng.

Amid rising tension between China and Canada, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed Tuesday that a former Canadian diplomat had been detained in Beijing. The detention came after China warned Canada of consequences for Meng’s arrest.

“We’re deeply concerned,” Goodale said. “A Canadian is obviously in difficulty in China. … We are sparing no effort to do everything we possibly can to look after his safety.”

Michael Kovrig, who previously worked as a diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong andthe United Nations, was taken into custody Monday night during one of his regular visits to Beijing, according to a spokesman for International Crisis Group, where Kovrig now works as North East Asia adviser based in Hong Kong.

Canada had been bracing for retaliation for Meng‘ arrest. The Canadian province of British Columbia canceled a trade mission to China amid fears China could detain Canadians to put pressure on Ottawa over Meng’s detention.

“In China there is no coincidence,” Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said of Kovrig’s detention. “Unfortunately Canada is caught in the middle of this dispute between the U.S and China. Because China cannot kick the U.S. they turn to the next target.”

Earlier in the day, China vowed to “spare no effort” to protect against “any bullying that infringes the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi didn’t mention Meng by name. But ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wang was referring to cases of all Chinese abroad, including Meng‘s.

Washington accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It says Meng and Huawei misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters in Washington “the charges against Meng pertain to alleged lies to United States financial institutions” about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies, is the target of U.S. security concerns. Washington has pressured other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.

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