Huawei executive returns as China releases 2 Canadians

Police stand guard as supporters of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou gather at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. China's government was eagerly anticipating the return of a top executive from global communications giant Huawei Technologies on Saturday following what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap with Canada and the U.S. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Caption
Police stand guard as supporters of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou gather at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. China's government was eagerly anticipating the return of a top executive from global communications giant Huawei Technologies on Saturday following what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap with Canada and the U.S. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Credit: Ng Han Guan

Credit: Ng Han Guan

An executive of Chinese global communications giant Huawei Technologies has returned from Canada following a legal settlement that also saw the release of two Canadians held by China, potentially bringing closure to a nearly 3-year-long feud embroiling Ottawa, Beijing and Washington

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — An executive of Chinese global communications giant Huawei Technologies returned from Canada Saturday night following a legal settlement that also saw the release of two Canadians held by China, potentially bringing closure to a nearly 3-year-long feud embroiling Ottawa, Beijing and Washington.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, arrived Saturday evening aboard a chartered jet provided by flag carrier Air China in the southern technology hub of Shenzhen, where Huawei is based.

Her return, met with a flag-waving group of airline employees, was carried live on state TV, underscoring the degree to which Beijing has linked her case with Chinese nationalism and its rise as a global economic and political power.

Wearing a red dress matching the color of China's flag, Meng thanked the ruling Communist Party and its leader Xi Jinping for supporting her through more than 1,000 days in house arrest in Vancouver, where she owns two multimillion dollar mansions.

“I have finally returned to the warm embrace of the motherland," Meng said. “As an ordinary Chinese citizen going through this difficult time, I always felt the warmth and concern of the party, the nation and the people."

On the same day, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were freed and flown back to Canada. They were detained shortly after Canada arrested Meng on a U.S. extradition request in December 2018. Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics,” while China accused Ottawa of arbitrary detention.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugged the pair on the tarmac after they landed in Calgary, Alberta early Saturday, following what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap involving China, the U.S. and Canada.

“These two men have been through an unbelievably difficult ordeal. For the past 1,000 days, they have shown strength, perseverance and grace and we are all inspired by that,” Trudeau said earlier Friday.

Meng, 49, reached an agreement with U.S. federal prosecutors that called for fraud charges against her to be dismissed next year. As part of the deal, known as a deferred prosecution agreement, she accepted responsibility for misrepresenting the company’s business dealings in Iran.

Shortly before her return, the Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper declared the resolution of the case as a “glorious victory for the Chinese people” achieved through the “unremitting efforts of the Chinese government.”

“The evidence shows this was purely a case of the political persecution of a Chinese citizen with the purpose of suppressing China’s technological advancement,” the paper said. “No force can block China’s forward progress,” it added.

In an emailed statement, Huawei said it would continue to defend itself against the allegations. The company also sent a statement from Meng's lawyer, William W. Taylor III, saying she had “not pleaded guilty and we fully expect the indictment will be dismissed with prejudice after 14 months."

The case had caused a huge rift in China-Canada relations, with Beijing launching regular broadsides against the Canadian justice system and banning some imports from the country. In addition, two Canadians convicted in separate drug cases in China were sentenced to death in 2019. A third, Robert Schellenberg, received a 15-year sentence that was abruptly increased to the death penalty after Meng’s arrest. It wasn't immediately clear if those prisoners might receive any reprieve.

In Shenzhen, a 20-year old job seeker at the headquarters of Huawei repeated a government view that Meng's arrest was driven by politics and rivalry with the U.S. over technology and global influence.

“I think (this) was to stop Huawei’s development in the world," said the man, who gave only his surname, Wang, as is common among citizens speaking to foreign media in China, where the government closely monitors all speech. “It’s a very important reason — nobody wants other countries to have better technology than itself.”

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies and a symbol of China’s progress in becoming a technological world power that has received massive government backing. It has also been a subject of U.S. security and law enforcement concerns, with officials and analysts saying it and other Chinese companies have flouted international rules and norms and stolen technology and vital personal information.

The case against Meng stemmed from a January 2019 indictment from the Justice Department under the administration of former President Donald Trump. It accused Huawei of stealing trade secrets and using a Hong Kong shell company called Skycom to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. The indictment also charged Meng herself with committing fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

The indictment came amid a broader Trump administration crackdown against Huawei over U.S. government concerns that the company’s products could facilitate Chinese spying. The administration cut off Huawei’s access to U.S. components and technology, including Google’s music and other smartphone services, and later barred vendors worldwide from using U.S. technology to produce components for Huawei.

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has kept up a hard line on Huawei and other Chinese corporations whose technology is thought to pose national security risks.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the U.S. government’s allegations and security concerns about its products.

As part of the deal with Meng, which was disclosed in federal court in Brooklyn, the Justice Department agreed to dismiss the fraud charges against her in December 2022 — exactly four years after her arrest — provided that she complies with certain conditions, including not contesting any of the government’s factual allegations. The Justice Department also agreed to drop its request that Meng be extradited to the U.S., which she had vigorously challenged, ending a process that prosecutors said could have persisted for months.

After appearing via videoconference for her hearing with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Meng made a brief court appearance in Vancouver, where she’d been out on bail while the two Canadians were held in Chinese prison cells where the lights were kept on 24 hours a day.

Outside the courtroom, Meng thanked the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law, expressed gratitude to the Canadian people and apologized “for the inconvenience I caused.”

“Over the last three years my life has been turned upside down,” she said. “It was a disruptive time for me as a mother, a wife and as a company executive. But I believe every cloud has a silver lining. It really was an invaluable experience in my life. I will never forget all the good wishes I received.”

Video was also circulated online in China of Meng speaking at Vancouver International Airport, saying; “Thank you motherland, thank you to the people of the motherland. You have been my greatest pillar of support.”

___

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, Rob Gillies in Toronto, Jim Mustian in New York and Jim Morris in Vancouver, Canada, contributed to this report.

Police stand guard as supporters of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou gather at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. China's government was eagerly anticipating the return of a top executive from global communications giant Huawei Technologies on Saturday following what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap with Canada and the U.S. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Caption
Police stand guard as supporters of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou gather at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. China's government was eagerly anticipating the return of a top executive from global communications giant Huawei Technologies on Saturday following what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap with Canada and the U.S. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Credit: Ng Han Guan

Credit: Ng Han Guan

Meng Wanzhou, left, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves her home in Vancouver, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.  U.S. prosecutors are prepared to resolve criminal charges against the chief financial officer of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies, the Justice Department disclosed Friday in a letter to a federal judge in New York.(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Caption
Meng Wanzhou, left, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves her home in Vancouver, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. U.S. prosecutors are prepared to resolve criminal charges against the chief financial officer of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies, the Justice Department disclosed Friday in a letter to a federal judge in New York.(Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: DARRYL DYCK

Credit: DARRYL DYCK

Supporters of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou hold a banner reading: "Welcome Home" at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. China's government was eagerly anticipating the return of a top executive from global communications giant Huawei Technologies on Saturday following what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap with Canada and the U.S. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Caption
Supporters of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou hold a banner reading: "Welcome Home" at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. China's government was eagerly anticipating the return of a top executive from global communications giant Huawei Technologies on Saturday following what amounted to a high-stakes prisoner swap with Canada and the U.S. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Credit: Ng Han Guan

Credit: Ng Han Guan

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, prepares to read a statement outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Caption
Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, prepares to read a statement outside B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: DARRYL DYCK

Credit: DARRYL DYCK

Meng Wanzhou, centre, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves her home in Vancouver, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.  U.S. prosecutors are prepared to resolve criminal charges against the chief financial officer of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies, the Justice Department disclosed Friday in a letter to a federal judge in New York. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Caption
Meng Wanzhou, centre, chief financial officer of Huawei, leaves her home in Vancouver, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. U.S. prosecutors are prepared to resolve criminal charges against the chief financial officer of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies, the Justice Department disclosed Friday in a letter to a federal judge in New York. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: DARRYL DYCK

Credit: DARRYL DYCK

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands with Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau to announce that Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been released from detention in China, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)
Caption
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands with Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau to announce that Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have been released from detention in China, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: Justin Tang

Credit: Justin Tang

A Canadian Forces Challenger jet takes off from the Calgary International Airport in Calgary after two Canadians who were imprisoned in China for nearly three years returned, , Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.  Video from CTV shows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeting Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on the tarmac at the airport in Calgary early this morning.  (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)
Caption
A Canadian Forces Challenger jet takes off from the Calgary International Airport in Calgary after two Canadians who were imprisoned in China for nearly three years returned, , Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Video from CTV shows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeting Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on the tarmac at the airport in Calgary early this morning. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: Jeff McIntosh

Credit: Jeff McIntosh

FILE - In this file image made from a March 2, 2017, video, Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Cultural Exchange, talks during a Skype interview in Yanji, China. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges have been released from prison and flown out of the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. (AP Photo/File)
Caption
FILE - In this file image made from a March 2, 2017, video, Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Cultural Exchange, talks during a Skype interview in Yanji, China. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges have been released from prison and flown out of the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. (AP Photo/File)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

FILE - In this file image made from a March 28, 2018, video, Michael Kovrig, an adviser with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based non-governmental organization, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges have been released from prison and flown out of the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. (AP Photo/File)
Caption
FILE - In this file image made from a March 28, 2018, video, Michael Kovrig, an adviser with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based non-governmental organization, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges have been released from prison and flown out of the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. (AP Photo/File)

Credit: Uncredited

Credit: Uncredited

Drawn from a video feed from the defendant's attorneys office in Canada, Wanzhou Meng is sworn in before Judge Ann Donnelly, inset at right, during the proceeding in Brooklyn federal court, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in New York. The top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies has resolved criminal charges against her as part of a deal with the U.S. Justice Department that could pave the way for her to return to China and that concludes a case that roiled relations between Washington and Beijing. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
Caption
Drawn from a video feed from the defendant's attorneys office in Canada, Wanzhou Meng is sworn in before Judge Ann Donnelly, inset at right, during the proceeding in Brooklyn federal court, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in New York. The top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies has resolved criminal charges against her as part of a deal with the U.S. Justice Department that could pave the way for her to return to China and that concludes a case that roiled relations between Washington and Beijing. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

Credit: Elizabeth Williams

Credit: Elizabeth Williams

In this courtroom sketch drawn from a video feed, Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, breaks down and cries as she appears via video prior to her hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court. Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in New York. The top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies has resolved criminal charges against her as part of a deal with the U.S. Justice Department that could pave the way for her to return to China and that concludes a case that roiled relations between Washington and Beijing. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
Caption
In this courtroom sketch drawn from a video feed, Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, breaks down and cries as she appears via video prior to her hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court. Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in New York. The top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies has resolved criminal charges against her as part of a deal with the U.S. Justice Department that could pave the way for her to return to China and that concludes a case that roiled relations between Washington and Beijing. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

Credit: Elizabeth Williams

Credit: Elizabeth Williams

A Chinese paramilitary policeman rides a bicycle past the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Caption
A Chinese paramilitary policeman rides a bicycle past the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Credit: Mark Schiefelbein

Credit: Mark Schiefelbein

A man walks past the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Caption
A man walks past the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, hours after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies resolved criminal charges against her in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Credit: Mark Schiefelbein

Credit: Mark Schiefelbein

The company logo of Huawei is seen on a building in the sprawling Huawei headquarters campus in Shenzhen, China, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, just after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department over fraud charges and flew to China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Caption
The company logo of Huawei is seen on a building in the sprawling Huawei headquarters campus in Shenzhen, China, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, just after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department over fraud charges and flew to China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Credit: Ng Han Guan

Credit: Ng Han Guan

The Huawei brand logo is seen on a building in the sprawling Huawei headquarters campus in Shenzhen, China, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, just after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department over fraud charges and flew to China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Caption
The Huawei brand logo is seen on a building in the sprawling Huawei headquarters campus in Shenzhen, China, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Two Canadians detained in China on spying charges were released from prison and flown out of the country on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, just after a top executive of Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department over fraud charges and flew to China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Credit: Ng Han Guan

Credit: Ng Han Guan