B.C. suspends Chinese leg of Asia forestry mission after Huawei arrest

Meng Wanzhou at a conference in Milan earlier this year. Meng is facing extradition to the U.S. | File photo, Shutterstock

The largest-ever B.C. forestry trade mission to Asia will return home four days early after officials say they are skipping their scheduled visit to China in light of the arrest of a Huawei Technologies executive in Vancouver.

The mission, led by Forestry/Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson, was originally scheduled to visit South Korea, Japan and China from Dec. 5 to Dec. 15. In a statement released Sunday, Trade/Jobs/Tchnologies Minister Bruce Ralston said that instead of the original itinerary, the mission will return home Dec. 11 after it completes its visit to Japan.

The trip’s South Korean portion had already been completed.

“The Province of British Columbia has suspended the China leg of its Asian forestry trade mission due to the international judicial process underway relating to a senior official at Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.,” Ralston said in the statement. “... It is anticipated that Minister Donaldson will work to reschedule events planned for the Chinese portion of this mission at the earliest convenient moment.”  

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1 by Canadian authorities acting on a warrant issued by the United States. American officials say Meng and Huawei bypassed U.S. sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2014 by selling technology products into the Iranian market through a subsidiary company with financial ties to the U.S.

Meng is facing extradition to the United States and had her first bail hearing on Friday in Vancouver.

China has denounced the arrest of Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, issuing a warning to the Canadian embassy in Beijing that Canada faces “serious consequences” if Meng isn’t freed.

China is B.C.’s second-largest market for wood product exports. In the statement, Ralston reiterated that the province continues to value its trade relations with China and that the “forest products industry remains committed to our relationship with our valued Chinese customers.”