Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese technology executive facing possible extradition to the U.S., has been reading books, completing oil paintings and noting the kindness of Canadians as she awaits continued court proceedings from Vancouver, according to an open letter.
On the anniversary of her arrest at Vancouver International Airport, Meng reflects on her year in Canada, in a blog post titled “Your warmth is a beacon that lights my way forward” that was published on the official Huawei website.
The post says Meng never intended to be in Canada as long as she has, and that, at times, it’s been a struggle of fear, disappointment and “torment.”
The tone of the piece is more positive than negative, but a contrast to the experience of two Canadians jailed in China weeks after her arrest.
“Over the past year, I have also learned to face up to and accept my situation,” Meng writes. “I’m no longer afraid of the unknown.”
Meng, 47, was arrested at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1, 2018. She has been living in one of two multimillion-dollar homes she owns in the B.C. city since she was released on $10-million bail in the weeks after she was first detained.
The conditions of her release restrict her movements to the Vancouver area. She is also monitored by a team of security guards and wears a special ankle bracelet, but can have visitors and communicate freely.
American authorities want to prosecute her for fraud in relation to statements she allegedly made in 2013 to an HSBC bank executive in Hong Kong about Huawei’s relationship with a company doing business in Iran.
News reports at the time suggested the company, Skycom, was actually a Huawei subsidiary.
Prosecutors said that, by claiming otherwise, Meng induced four banks into possible violations of U.S sanctions laws against Iran, putting them at risk of fines and criminal liability.
The blog post recounts none of these details, but lyrically illustrates how much Meng’s life has changed since she was “stretched thin” conducting business for Huawei from Shenzhen, Guangdong, where the company has its headquarters.
“If a busy life has eaten away at my time, then hardship has in turn drawn it back out,” the blog reads.
Meng says she now passes her time more slowly and is able to read books, linger over conversations and “carefully complete an oil painting.”
Much of the blog gives thanks for support for her ordeal from Huawei colleagues, customers and suppliers.
Beijing notes arrest anniversary
The Foreign Ministry in Beijing issued its own statement to mark the one-year anniversary of Meng’s arrest, calling her detainment “a serious political incident.”
As translated by CBC News, ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “China’s position on Meng Wanzhou’s case is consistent and clear. The United States and Canada have abused their bilateral extradition treaties and arbitrarily taken coercive measures against Chinese citizens that seriously violated the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizen.
“We once again strongly urge Canada to take seriously China’s solemn stance and concerns, take practical measures to correct its mistakes, release Ms. Meng Wanzhou as soon as possible and ensure that she returns to home safely.”
Hua said she was “deeply moved” after reading Meng’s anniversary post.
“She has experienced so much pain, disappointment, and helplessness, yet she still faces the situation with strength and grace. It is very admirable.”
Cites kindness from Canadians
Toward the end of her post, Meng writes she has been “deeply moved by the kindness of people in Canada.” In particular, she thanks the Metro Vancouver institution where she was held before being released on bail.
“Thanks to the kindness of the correctional officers and other inmates at the Alouette Correctional Center [sic] for Women, I was able to make it through the worst days of my life,” the blog says.
The post also says a security company’s staff shovelled a path for her at home so her elderly mother could visit.
It says all the kindness and goodwill has given her strength.
“I no longer feel so far from home … I’m no longer afraid of the rough road ahead. While my personal freedoms have been limited, my soul still seeks to be free. Amidst these setbacks, I’ve found light in the life around me.”
Dec. 18 will mark the anniversary of the detainment by Chinese officials of two Canadians in China, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. The two were charged months later with “endangering state security,” but the Chinese have been accused of arresting the men to retaliate against Meng’s arrest.
According to Global Affairs Canada, Canadian officials have been granted consular access more than a dozen times to assess the men’s well-being, provide legal guidance and help them communicate with loved ones.
Meng did not mention the men in her post.
Canadian officials have said Spavor and Kovrig have faced multiple hours of questioning over several days days and do not have access to a lawyer. Other Canadians who have been detained in China have said conditions are difficult.
The first phase of Meng’s extradition hearing is expected to begin in January.
For an in-depth look at the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, subscribe to the CBC podcast Sanctioned: The Arrest of a Telecom Giant. The original podcast explores how the arrest of the Huawei CFO thrust Canada into the middle of an international technology trade war. Hosted by CBC Radio One’s Stephen Quinn, the six-part podcast can be found on all podcast streaming platforms.