Our speaker on June 7th was Vincent Yang Ph.D, who was charged (or charged himself) with the task of unravelling for proletarians like ourselves the tangled skein that has been woven around the recent Meng Wanzhou detention in Vancouver under the Extradition Treaty with the US respecting the supposed infraction by this lady of the sanctions of the US upon Iran. The subject was outlined in some detail because of the arrest of the lady on December 1st and the immediate and unequivocal demand by China for her release on the basis of her human rights having been transgressed by her imprisonment and subsequent release on bail (with concomitant restrictions and travel and domicile limitations), a proposition almost risible in light of the coincident arraignment  and detention of the two Canadian Michaels in China because of other poorly defined offences against Chineses law (which is itself opaque at the best of times). In fact, the Vancouver processes were by no means lethargic: on December 10th the bail hearing proceeded, but only one day later the Chinese Ministry declared that “China will not sit idly by” (whatever that meant) whereon Ambassador to China John McCallum declared that Meng may well have a very good defence to the extradition request … … at which point he was promptly fired from his post! Very soon after this strange Canadian response it was announced in Beijing that no calls would be accepted from Canada, and then, on January 8th Ambassador Lu Shaye accused Canada of “white supremacy” (whatever that may be). The pace of events then slowed, informal sources declaring that the extradition process could well occupy another 2 years (a declaration that would surprise no Canadian lawyer).

Necessarily, the focus of events then began to move to trade and other issues, particularly difficult to disentangle because of the simultaneous debate (to put it kindly) going on between the White House and the Chinese government, who themselves have some difficulty in even understanding dissent, let alone knowing how to counter it!. The issues then arising became more complex with the “threat to Canada’s national security” that many Canadians perceived (a partial throwback to the curious nature of such threats now given some credibility by the orange-haired fellow in Washington). Suffice it to say that it now appears that 66% of Canadians declare that will avoid buying Chinese products and 56% say that the arrest of Meng is a legal matter and that Canada has done no wrong. One need hardly add that such opinions in Canada are hardly likely to disturb the equanimity felt in China by these events in a minnow of world diplomacy such as is Canada. Time will tell.

The gravamen of Dr. Yang’s presentation was in the final event limned by our august Leigh. He made the point, which had by that time become readily apparent, that the whole issue revolved around the question of the Rule of Law. Plainly the kernel of the issue was whether Huawei had transgressed the US sanctions (legitimately, if unwisely, applied by the US government against what is ostensibly an independent company outside governmental control) which because of the reality of the Chinese view of ‘business’ had now become a political and not a legal matter. Simply put, the whole matter, because of the Chinese view of economics and politics, was and always has been political: there is then no distinction to be made in China between the two concepts.

By coincidence this whole issue became alive simultaneously with the 30-year anniversary of the the Tienanmen massacre. This event, glazed over at the time, has in the intervening years become not so much a political hot-potato as a non-event. The Economist reports in its latest edition that an activist, Chen Bing, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison because he labelled bottles of alcohol with pictures of the lone protester who stared down tanks in the square. Even mothers of school pupils gunned down in cold blood are said to have been place under surveillance or gone on enforced “trips out of town.” And these steps are taken by a government who want the world to believe that they rule in a majoritarian compact accepted by most of their citizens!

Dr. Yang ended on what seems to your correspondent to be a solidly practical note. If Ms. Meng chose to simply drive down to the US and surrender herself to the authorities, she would likely be brought before a criminal court with celerity. Thereupon, she would be faced with the issue of simply raising a reasonable doubt before a jury that no criminal offence had occurred, not too high a hurdle to overcome with her resources, which are plainly able to buy th very finest legal talent (and, of course, purchase a bit of political influence as well, unspoken though this sentiment must remain). As it is, however, it looks as though we must be faced with this farrago at least until January 2021.