US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said two Canadian citizens being kept in custody by China are unlawfully detained and they should be returned. Pompeo made the accusation on Friday during a joint press conference after the US-Canada 2+2 ministerial meeting.
Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland also defended the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, as a decision made according to law not politics.
Earlier this week US President Donald Trump said he might step in if it is good for his country, implying that Meng’s case could be leveraged as a bargaining chip, which turns out to be an embarrassment for the Canadian government.
Canada is clamoring about how “unacceptable” it is for China to keep its people in custody, and still insisted that Meng’s arrest under US request was based on law. Ottawa is seeking support from the US, and also hopes other allies will join and step up the pressure on Beijing.
China’s judiciary is different from the US and Canada, so how could both countries be so sure that China’s detention of the two Canadians is illegal? Jurisdiction is an essential component of a country’s sovereignty. All foreign citizens in China, instead of holding the illusion that they can be protected by the laws of their home countries, must abide by the laws of China. Canadian and US foreign ministers must be fully aware of the basic principle.
The most important principle for communication between countries of different systems is mutual respect, without which there won’t be effective conversations. The US has been relentlessly employing long-arm jurisdiction, and Canada is willing to be its accomplice. Ottawa should reflect on its decision instead of blaming Beijing.
The world order is not an expansion of the legal systems and values embraced by the US and Canada. Different systems should be integrated in an inclusive environment. Insolence and arrogance, represented by the US and Canada through their blatant accusation of China, is the worst detriment to the world order.
The US and Canada have strong capability of using laws as weapons against other countries. Their propaganda machines and the Western media networks have the power to distort anything in their field. However, facts and principles are more powerful than any headline or frontpage story. China, a mega country, must make sure its national interests and security are strongly defended against any external forces.
Without compromising the bottom line, China also needs to make its law enforcement more transparent to the outside.
The US and Canada make an uproar that China’s detention of the two Canadians will jeopardize the country’s business environment. But Meng’s arrest makes a far bigger impact on the global business environment.
Canada should know that having the US’ support won’t make much difference. Fiddling with the Taiwan question is unlikely to put any pressure on Beijing. Ottawa must be aware that China has many cards to play, and going against Beijing is a bad idea. Staying away from the tensions between China and the US should be what it seeks.