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China vows to protect its citizens abroad as Canadian court mulls over what to do with Huawei exec

FOREIGN Minister Wang Yi vowed today that China will protect its citizens abroad as a Canadian court deliberates on whether to release technology executive Meng Wanzhou who has been held on a US arrest warrant.

Beijing will “spare no effort” to protect against “any bullying that infringes the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens,” Mr Wang told a conference in Shanghai.

Mr Wang didn’t specifically mention the Huawei Technologies Ltd executive Ms Meng, who was arrested in Vancouver on US charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.

However, ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Mr Wang was referring to cases of all Chinese abroad, including Ms Meng.

Her arrest on December coincides with an agreement by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to implement a 90-day ceasefire in a tariff war between the two countries.

The arrest prompted concern that trade talks might be derailed, but Beijing indicated today that they were going ahead.

China’s economy supremo, Vice Premier Liu He, talked by phone with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about the next round of negotiators, the Ministry of Commerce announced, giving no details of preparations.

The two governments have tried to keep Ms Meng’s case separate from the trade talks, but jitters among companies and investors have shaken global stock markets.

Washington accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions, which Washington tries to impose on the rest of the world.

It declares that Ms Meng and Huawei misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

Her bail hearing continued today into a third day in front of Justice William Ehrcke in Vancouver.

Prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley has asked the court to reject Ms Meng’s bail request, saying she has vast resources and a strong incentive to flee because US fraud charges carry a possible maximum prison term of 30 years.

Her arrest has set off debate online in China over whether to protest by boycotting Apple, whose iPhone is a rival to Huawei’s smartphone branding, and to support Chinese brands.

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