Huawei takes to Twitter to support CFO ahead of first hearing

Smartphone giant’s founder says US is ‘overconcerned’ with his company and its place in the tech race

epa08145660 Meng Wanzhou steps out of her car upon arriving at BC Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 20 January 2020. The United States is seeking extradition of Meng since she was detained in December 2018 on charges related to accusations that Huawei had tried to steal US technology and had lied about its relationship with an Iranian subsidiary.  EPA/Stringer
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Smartphone maker Huawei took to Twitter to say it stands with its top executive Meng Wanzhou ahead of her court hearing in parallel to China pressuring Canada to release her.

Huawei shared a 29-second video on Twitter, on Monday, minutes after the start of the court hearing in Ms Meng’s repatriation case.

“We trust in Canada’s judicial system, which will prove Ms Meng’s innocence,” Huawei’s spokesperson in Canada, Benjamin Howes, said in the video.

“Huawei stands with Ms Meng in her pursuit for justice and freedom… we hope Ms Meng will be together with her family, colleagues and friends as soon as possible,” he added.

Ms Meng, daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei and chief financial officer of the firm, was arrested in December 2018, at the request of the US, while transiting in Vancouver.

The US is pursuing criminal charges against Huawei and Ms Meng, including alleged money laundering, bank fraud, stealing trade secrets and violating US trade sanctions against Iran. Both Ms Meng and Huawei have denied any wrongdoing.

On Sunday, a day before the start of the court hearing, China’s foreign ministry called Ms Meng’s extradition case a “grave political incident” and urged the Canadian government to release the executive.

Last week, the US and China signed the first phase of a broader trade agreement, marking a truce in an 18-month spat between the world's two biggest economies. However, the Trump administration has maintained pressure on Huawei, which it says is spying for the Chinese government through its technology.

During a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday, Huawei’s founder Mr Ren said that the US could step up its efforts against Huawei this year.

"This year the US might further escalate their campaign against Huawei but I feel the impact will not be too significant," he said, adding that his team had learnt from their experience in 2019.

Mr Ren said that the US is “overconcerned” about China and its dominance in the tech race. “It's got used to being world No 1. They don't feel comfortable if someone is better," he said.

The first phase of Ms Meng’s four-day extradition hearing will continue until Friday.

Ms Meng’s lawyer Richard Peck told a Vancouver court that the extradition case against his client is a “façade”.

“This case is founded on an allegation of breach of US sanctions... sanctions which Canada has expressly repudiated,” Mr Peck told the court on Monday. “In the end, we are being asked to impose on Canada an obligation to assist the US in enforcing sanctions on Iran.”

Ms Meng is currently living in her Vancouver mansion under house arrest, after furnishing a bail bond of $7.65 million (Dh28.07m) in the court.

The ongoing legal battle has strained China’s relations with Canada.

In December, 2018, retaliating over Ms Meng’s arrest, the Chinese government detained two Canadian citizens - Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor - on state security charges.