(Updates with comments from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in paragraph 2, background in paragraphs 3 and 4)
BEIJING, Jan 20 (Reuters) - China repeated its call on Monday for Canada to release detained Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou as soon as possible, ahead of the executive’s first extradition hearing later in the day.
“The resolve of the Chinese government to protect Chinese citizens’ proper legal rights is firm and unwavering,” foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, told reporters during a daily briefing. He called Meng’s case a “serious political matter”.
Meng, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, where she is charged with bank fraud and accused of misleading the bank HSBC about Huawei Technologies’ business in Iran.
Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition.
Her arrest infuriated the Chinese government, which subsequently detained two Canadian citizens - Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor - on state security charges. International observers have called the cases against Kovrig and Spavor retaliation for Meng’s detention.
Meng is scheduled to appear in court for the first phase of her extradition hearing in Vancouver later on Monday. (Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Kim Coghill and Tom Hogue)