Amid Huawei CFO Case, Canada Is Squeezed Between China And U.S. Canada is under pressure from the two rival powers over the Meng Wanzhou extradition case.
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How Canada Gets Squeezed Between China And The U.S.

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How Canada Gets Squeezed Between China And The U.S.

How Canada Gets Squeezed Between China And The U.S.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Canada has found itself in an awkward position, squeezed between two of the world's most powerful countries. The U.S. requested that Canada arrest and extradite a senior executive of one of China's tech giants, Huawei. And China is furious and threatening to retaliate. NPR's Jackie Northam traveled to Vancouver, where this Canadian crisis began.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: It's a typically gray, drizzly day here in downtown Vancouver, where an extradition hearing is underway. A gaggle of mostly Chinese protesters have gathered outside the court. One man sets fire to a small Chinese flag. Another, Louis Huang, holds a poster showing pictures of two Canadian men - Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor - who are in a Chinese prison.

LOUIS HUANG: Chinese use them as the hostage to negotiate a deal with Canada.

NORTHAM: Chinese authorities arrested the two men in December shortly after Canadian authorities detained Meng Wanzhou. She's the chief financial officer of Huawei, one of the world's largest manufacturers of telecommunication equipment. The Trump administration wants Canada to extradite her on charges of fraud and skirting U.S. sanctions on Iran. Canada agreed.

JONATHAN MANTHORPE: Canada played totally by the rulebook here.

NORTHAM: Jonathan Manthorpe is author of "Claws Of The Panda: Beijing's Campaign Of Influence And Intimidation In Canada."

MANTHORPE: We have a international extradition treaty with the U.S. We followed it by the letter.

NORTHAM: Canada has extradited many Chinese nationals over the years, says Paul Evans, an Asia specialist at the University of British Columbia. But Beijing sees this one as different.

PAUL EVANS: Canada has captured a Chinese princess from an iconic company and has acted at the behest of the United States. To many Chinese, that's been deeply upsetting.

NORTHAM: Washington wants allies, including Canada, to bar Huawei's equipment when they roll out their 5G networks. Many here feel Meng's arrest is part of that effort to contain Huawei. All this comes when the U.S. and China are involved in a bitter trade dispute. Evans says Canada felt tricked when President Trump said he would consider intervening in Meng's case if it helped secure a trade deal with China.

EVANS: There is a widespread feeling in Canada that the request from American authorities to arrest Madam Meng was for political reasons.

NORTHAM: That placed Canada directly in China's crosshairs. Beyond arresting the two Canadians, Beijing has blocked hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of grain imports. Meng's extradition process could drag on for months, possibly years. And China could continue to ratchet up the pressure. Evans says Canada has to figure out how to contain the collateral damage.

EVANS: Patient diplomacy, structuring some incentives for China to behave better - but a small country like Canada doesn't have many levers in a tit for tat retaliation game.

NORTHAM: In the meantime, Meng is under house arrest at one of her two multimillion dollar homes here in a quiet upscale neighborhood of Vancouver. Security officers sit in a black SUV out front. Book author Manthorpe says Meng has it relatively easy.

MANTHORPE: She is only required to be in her house overnight. She's out shopping most of the time, unlike our kidnapped Canadians in China who are being subject to sleep deprivation and interrogations several hours a day.

NORTHAM: But Manthorpe says the one thing Canada will not do is release Meng Wanzhou, unless the U.S. drops its extradition request. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Vancouver.

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