Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday held firm that Canada will not bow to pressure to release Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou following a fresh rebuke from Beijing.
Meng was arrested on a US warrant in December 2018 during a stopover in Vancouver and has been fighting extradition ever since.
The case plunged Canada-China relations into crisis, with Beijing detaining days later Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, which was seen in the West as retaliation.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Trudeau said: “China continues to think that they can just put enough pressure on us and we will give in, where that’s exactly the opposite of our position.”
“We don’t believe in coercive diplomacy,” he said. “We actually deeply believe that if you start giving in to that kind of pressure you’ll leave yourself worse off for the long term.”
“We will not bend on our principles.”
On Monday, Trudeau raised the plight of the two detained Michaels during a phone call with US President-elect Joe Biden.
Later he told reporters he was “extremely confident” that Washington would keep up pressure on Beijing to release the pair and “impress upon China that the approach they’re taking is simply not working.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin shot back that Ottawa had arrested Meng “without reason” and “without having violated any Canadian law,” while continuing to insist that the two Canadians were detained on “suspicions of having harmed national security.”
Meng is wanted in the US on fraud charges related to violations of US sanctions in Iran.
Her extradition hearing is expected to wrap up in April 2021.