OTTAWA (Reuters) – China does not appear to understand that Canada’s judiciary is independent, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday, taking a rare public swipe at Beijing at a time when bilateral ties are poor.
China says Canada must free Huawei Technologies Co Ltd chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who is fighting extradition to the United States. She was arrested by Vancouver police in December 2018.
Canadian government officials have repeatedly said they cannot intervene in the case.
“Canada has an independent judicial system that functions without interference or override by politicians,” Trudeau told a daily briefing.
“China doesn’t work quite the same way and (doesn’t) seem to understand that we do have an independent judiciary.”
Shortly after Meng’s arrest, Chinese authorities detained two Canadian men in China on state security charges. Beijing also blocked imports of Canadian canola seed.
Trudeau said last month that China had suspended consular visits to the two men, citing the coronavirus outbreak.
“The fact that China is still linking an independent judicial system in the case of Meng Wanzhou with the arbitrary detention of two Canadians is saddening but that’s a challenge we’ve been working with for many months,” he said on Thursday.
The Chinese embassy in Ottawa was not immediately available for comment.
Canada and China are both “furious” over the case of Meng but there are signs the two sides can hold constructive talks, the Canadian ambassador to Beijing said in February.
The United States says it believes Meng covered up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran, breaking U.S. sanctions against the country.
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