China demands release of Huawei executive, company denies any ‘wrongdoing’

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The Chinese embassy in Canada strongly protested the arrest of Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, at the behest of U.S. authorities on allegations she violated sanctions against Iran.

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday, but the news only emerged Wednesday.

“The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the U.S. and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou,” said a statement on the embassy website.

Meanwhile, the company itself protested her arrest, releasing a statement on Twitter, saying it had been given “very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng.

“The company believes the Canadian and U.S. legal systems will ultimately reach a just conclusion,” said Huawei, adding that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanctions law and regulations of the U.N., U.S. and EU”

The U.S. has long been concerned about cybersecurity risks from Huawei products, restricting its U.S. business and urging international allies to avoid the company’s equipment. The news could reignite trade worries between the U.S. and China, nervousness that was reflected via losses for U.S. stock futures and Asian stocks Thursday.

James Lewis, a former Commerce Department official and current director of technology policy at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, warned that American tech executives should avoid traveling to China, and could be the target of retaliatory arrest measures by the country, after the Huawei official’s detention.

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Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Follow her on Twitter @bkollmeyer.

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