Trump Would Intervene in Huawei Case to get China Trade Deal

us China trade dispute

CBJ — U.S. President Donald Trump says he would intervene in U.S. efforts to extradite Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou if it helped him win a trade deal with China.

“If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made, which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene, if I thought it was necessary,” Trump said Tuesday in an interview with Reuters.

Meng was arrested earlier this month at the request of U.S. authorities, who allege she conspired to defraud banks to unwittingly violate U.S. sanctions by clearing transactions linked to Iran. On Tuesday, she was granted a US$7.5 million bail by a Canadian court, allowing the Huawei chief financial officer to return to her Vancouver home as extradition proceedings continue.

The arrest has threatened to disrupt U.S.-Chinese relations even as the two nations’ leaders seek to negotiate a trade deal that would scale back a series of tariffs that have been implemented this year.

While the American Justice Department would lead any extradition effort, Trump could bring considerable pressure on Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to drop efforts to bring Meng to the U.S.

Whitaker and other top Justice officials who would lead an extradition effort serve at the pleasure of the president, who has shown he’s willing to oust subordinates — including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang reacted positively to Trump’s remarks on Wednesday, while continuing to call for Meng to be released immediately.

Making matters worse, a former Canadian diplomat was detained during a visit to Beijing, which has largely been viewed as retaliation. However, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters he saw “no explicit indication” Meng’s case was linked to the detention of Michael Kovrig, who now works as a senior adviser to the International Crisis Group in Hong Kong.