VANCOUVER — A timeline of the Meng Wanzhou case, and rising tension between Canada and China.
Aug. 22: A New York court issues a warrant for the arrest of Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Dec. 1: Canadian authorities arrest Meng at Vancouver’s airport while she is en route from Hong Kong to Mexico, after an extradition request from the Americans. The news becomes public on Dec. 5.
Dec. 6: China demands Canada release Meng and “immediately correct the mistake” officials made in arresting her. The Chinese also say they were not briefed on the reasons for Meng’s arrest.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Meng’s case is part of an independent legal process with no outside political influence.
Dec. 7: Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada’s envoy to China has briefed Chinese officials about Meng’s case. She declines to comment on suggestions from analysts and former diplomats that China will likely retaliate by jailing Canadians.
In Vancouver, Meng appears in court, where allegations of fraud are laid out. The U.S. alleges Meng misled American banks in a bid to get around American sanctions on Iran.
Dec. 8: Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, is summoned to a meeting with China’s assistant foreign minister so the country can register complaints about Meng’s arrest. “China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained Huawei executive … or face grave consequences that the Canadian side should be held accountable for,” the assistant minister, Le Yucheng, says in a statement.
Dec. 9: China summons the American ambassador to China to lodge similar complaints about Meng’s case and demand the U.S. rescind the order for her arrest.
Dec. 10: Chinese authorities arrest two Canadian men. Michael Kovrig, who was on leave from Global Affairs Canada, and entrepreneur Michael Spavor. Kovrig’s arrest becomes public on Dec. 11. Spavor’s becomes public on Dec. 12.
Meanwhile, China’s vice premier, with responsibility for the domestic economy, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talk about the ongoing tariff battle between the two countries.
Dec. 11: In the morning, Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, tells reporters it is “absolutely false” to assume a political motive behind the Meng’s arrest.
Later in the day, Meng is released on $10 million bail. In an affidavit submitted for a bail hearing, Meng, 46, details a lifetime of health issues, including thyroid cancer, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.
The day ends with U.S. President Donald Trump telling Reuters in an interview that he would “certainly intervene” in Meng’s case “if I thought it was necessary” to help forge a trade deal with China.
Dec. 12: China’s foreign ministry says it has no information about Kovrig, but says the organization he worked with — the International Crisis Group — was not registered in China, making its activities in the country illegal.
The Liberals spend the day outlining how the extradition process will work, reiterating that it is an independent process. Trudeau reaffirms Canada’s commitment to the rule of law, “regardless of what goes on in other countries.” Freeland warns any comments made in the United States could be used by Meng’s lawyers before Canadian courts, which would have to judge their relevance in deciding whether to follow through on the American extradition request.
Dec. 13: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accuses Trudeau of taking a “naive approach” to China, leaving Canada without “the leverage that we might otherwise have” to resolve the situation. He calls on Trudeau to reach out to the highest levels of the Chinese government.
Earlier in the day, Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, says the arrests of the two Canadians were plainly a response to Meng’s arrest: “That’s the Chinese playbook and again the problem we always have with China is when we launch legitimate concerns over whatever it is, China comes back and does these kinds of actions.”
China’s foreign ministry says Kovrig and Spavor have been detained on suspicion of “endangering national security.”
Dec. 14: Canadian officials are granted consular access to Kovrig, and McCallum meets with him in Beijing. Meng’s case comes up during a meeting between Freeland and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with the two agreeing that no politics be injected into the extradition process. Pompeo publicly calls on China to release Kovrig and Spavor.
Dec. 16: Canadian diplomats in China are granted consular access to Spavor.
Dec. 19: Global Affairs Canada says a third Canadian has been detained in China. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government has no reason to believe the case is linked to the detention of Kovrig and Spavor. The next day, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says the Canadian woman, Sarah McIver, received an administrative penalty for illegal employment.
Dec. 20: Indictments unsealed in the United States allege two Chinese citizens targeted companies in Canada and around the world as part of a years-long hacking campaign to steal data.
Dec. 21: Kovrig’s employer, the International Crisis Group, says he has not been given access to a lawyer while in custody. A source familiar with the conditions of Kovrig’s detention says he is questioned three times a day and kept in a room with the lights on continuously.
Freeland formally demands both men be let go, calling in a statement “for their immediate release.” Similar statements come out from the United States, Britain and the European Union.
Dec. 22: During a visit to Canadian peacekeepers in Mali, Trudeau says countries around the world are “extremely disturbed” by China’s detention of Spavor and Kovrig.
Dec. 24: China’s foreign ministry calls out the U.S., Britain and EU, saying the trio should be condemning Canada for Meng’s arrest. Spokeswoman Hua Chunying says Canada should “correct its mistakes” and stop acting at the behest of the United States. She says Kovrig and Spavor’s rights are being respected in custody.
Dec. 27: Chinese state media bring up the case of a Canadian man charged with drug smuggling. The Global Times, an English-language publication of the official People’s Daily, says Robert Lloyd Schellenberg appeal of his conviction will be heard on Dec. 29. Global Affairs says the case has been ongoing for several years.
Dec. 28: Global Affairs confirms that McIver has returned to Canada after being released.
Dec. 29: A Chinese court orders a retrial for Schellenberg, raising the possibility of a harsher sentence, including death. The Wall Street Journal reports Chinese authorities took the odd measure of inviting a number of news outlets to the appeal.
Dec. 30: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne says in a statement that her government is “very concerned” about Kovrig’s and Spavor’s detentions. Earlier in the day, a group of 36 Australian academics demanded their government “call for the immediate release of these two detainees.”
Jan. 3: At a news conference, China’s prosecutor general Zhang Jun says Kovrig and Spavor “without a doubt” violated Chinese law. He says the investigation is also following the rule of law, but doesn’t provide more details about the allegations.
Jan. 7: The Prime Minister’s Office says Donald Trump has affirmed his respect for judicial independence. In a summary of a phone call between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the PMO indicated the leaders discussed the high-profile U.S. extradition request — though Meng was not named — and agreed on the importance of respecting the independence of judges and the rule of law.
Jan. 08: Canadian officials visit Spavor for a second time. Global Affairs Canada says it is also trying to arrange another meeting with Kovrig.
Jan. 9: China’s envoy in Ottawa suggests Canada and its Western allies are white supremacists for calling for the release of two Canadians imprisoned last month by his country’s communist government. Ambassador Lu Shaye makes the accusation in an op-ed in the Hill Times.
Jan. 10: Kovrig receives a consular visit for the second time since his arrest.
Jan. 14: Trudeau says he’s very concerned to see China “acting arbitrarily” by applying the death penalty to a Canadian convicted of drug trafficking. He says Canada will do all it can to intervene on Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s behalf after a court in Dalian in northeastern Liaoning province announced it had given Schellenberg the death penalty after reconsidering his case.
Jan. 15: China expresses its “strong dissatisfaction” with Trudeau over his criticism of Schellenberg’s sentence. Trudeau should “respect the rule of law, respect China’s judicial sovereignty, correct mistakes and stop making irresponsible remarks,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says.
Jan. 16: The U.S. State Department says China’s death sentence against Schellenberg is “politically motivated.” A statement says Pompeo and Freeland spoke and “expressed their concerns about the arbitrary detentions and politically motivated sentencing of Canadian nationals.”
Jan. 17: Ambassador Shaye says Canada’s arrest of Meng was an act of “backstabbing” by a friend. Lu warns of “repercussions” if Canada bars the firm from its new 5G network for security reasons, as have three of its intelligence-sharing allies.
Jan. 18: Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government’s decision on whether to ban Huawei from being used in Canada’s next generation 5G wireless network will not be influenced by threats of retaliation from China.
Jan. 22: China demands the U.S. drop a request that Canada extradite Meng. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Meng’s case was out of the ordinary and Canada’s extradition treaty with the U.S. infringed on the “safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.”
Jan. 23: Ambassador McCallum says there are strong legal arguments Meng can make to help her avoid extradition to the United States. Speaking to Chinese reporters a day earlier in the Toronto area, McCallum listed several arguments Meng’s legal team can make in her defence.
Jan. 24: Trudeau dismisses calls to remove McCallum following his comments to Chinese reporters, saying such a change wouldn’t help the two Canadians detained by Chinese authorities get home any sooner. Later, McCallum says he “misspoke” when he suggested detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou had a strong case to avoid extradition to the United States.
Jan. 25: McCallum tells StarMetro Vancouver it would be “great for Canada” if the United States drops its extradition request. “We have to make sure that if the U.S. does such a deal, it also includes the release of our two people. And the U.S. is highly aware of that,” he told the Star.
Jan. 26: McCallum resigns as ambassador to China at Trudeau’s request.
Jan. 28: The U.S. Department of Justice formally levels criminal charges against Huawei, two subsidiaries and Meng. The charges, contained in two newly unsealed indictments, allege that Huawei misrepresented its ownership of a Hong Kong-based subsidiary to circumvent American sanctions against Iran. Furthermore, they say Huawei stole telecommunications technology, trade secrets and equipment from U.S. cellphone provider T-Mobile USA. Meng is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit both. In a statement, Huawei denied committing any of the violations cited in the indictment.
Jan. 29: The Canadian government says it has received a formal request for the extradition of Meng, who appears in a Vancouver court to change the people who are providing her with some of the financial sureties for her release. China calls on the U.S. to “stop the unreasonable crackdown” on Huawei, saying it will “firmly defend” its companies.
The Canadian Press