The detention of the two Michaels and Meng was completely avoidable

The Michaels and Meng

Last Friday a visibly relieved Prime Minister Trudeau announced to a thankful nation that Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canaidians who had spent nearly three years imprisoned in China, were coming home. It was wonderful to see the families of the two Michaels, unburdened of three years of emotional pain, greet their sons, fathers, husbands as they landed in their home cities.

At the same time the Chinese were experiencing the same emotions as Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive, touched down in her home city after spending nearly three years detained in Canada. A massive three-way diplomatic knot had been untangled, closing a sorry chapter in international relations involving the USA, China and Canada.

The international furor was initiated when Canada responded to a US extradition request to arrest Meng when her plane made a stop in Vancouver, and send her to the US to answer a charge of defrauding the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. HSBC is a British bank operating out of Hong Kong. The charge was that Meng lied to the bank about a Huawei subsidiary which was doing business in Iran.

It was an absurd charge since doing business with Iran breaks no law, except the one concocted by the US. There is no such prohibition in international law. Furthermore, the U.S. has no jurisdiction to prosecute acts that occur in a third country, by a citizen of that country, with a bank registered in a fourth country. Meng Wanzhou was dealing with the bank in Hong Kong, which is part of China, her country. The US was behaving like an international police force.

Imagine Canada’s reaction if China charged a Canadian citizen for breaking a Chinese law in Canada and insisting that they be extradited to China for prosecution. Canada would consider it the height of absurdity undeserving of a response. Yet Meng was arrested and put on trial to prove why she shouldn’t be sent to the US for trial.

Contrary to the Canadian government position and the main stream scribes, this is not complicated. The government understood very well that the US was acting beyond its jurisdiction and had neither a legal nor moral right to reach beyond its borders to apply its own law in the international arena.

Canada claimed that it was operating according to the rule of law and in accordance with an extradition treaty with the US. In fact, if Canada was really interested in the rule of law, the government knew that when it comes to extradition, two Ministers of Justice, in this case Jody Wilson-Raybould and  David Lametti, have the legal right to deny an extradition if it’s not in the interest of Canada. And given what occurred – three persons had their freedom taken away for three years while severely damaging relations with China, the second most powerful nation in the world – it was not only legally and morally right to tell the US “no” and send Meng Wanzhou back to her country, it was clearly in Canada’s interest.

Of course, our Minister of Justice said “yes” to the US thereby initiating a rather unpleasant chain of events set off when China arrested the two Michaels for spying. The knot took nearly three years to untie.

Now that we have three victims of events that didn’t have to occur, the Canadian scribes are resorting to their usual polemics against China: the Chinese indulged in hostage diplomacy (if the US had done it the term would have been the much milder “retaliatory measure”); the Chinese lied when they said that the two Michaels weren’t held as hostages vis-à-vis Meng Wanzhou (apparently the Chinese have a monopoly on mendacity); Meng’s was a lawful deportation hearing, while the two Michaels were the objects of unlawful detention and intimidation (most reasonable people would agree that there’s nothing lawful about being tried on a bogus charge). The list of our media’s absurd assertions is long, and all follow the same pattern.

Meanwhile, the Chinese are rightly unapologetic, but had one bit of advice for Canada: it should act in its own interest – advice that Canada should gratefully accept from a nation that has at least 3,500 years of unbroken civilization.