Pompeo says Huawei CEO is not a bargaining chip in Trump-China trade war

The US alleges Ms Meng helped Huawei circumvent sanctions on Iran - REUTERS

Mike Pompeo has rejected claims that detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is being used for leverage in the US-China trade war.

Speaking with his Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland, in Ottawa on Thursday, the US secretary of state appeared to rule out dropping the extradition request for Ms Meng to ease tensions with Beijing, insisting it is a legal matter.

In December, US president Donald Trump implied he might intervene in the case to help secure a trade deal with China. “Whatever’s good for this country, I would do,” he said at the time.

The US alleges Ms Meng – the Chinese technology company’s chief financial officer and the daughter of its chief executive – helped  Huawei circumvent sanctions on Iran.

According to Vancouver court documents released this week, she told a Canadian border official that the company has an office in Iran.

The US has charged Ms Meng, 47, with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit both. She is currently on bail living under house arrest in one of her Vancouver mansions while her lawyers fight her extradition to the US.

Asked on Thursday if she is a “bargaining chip” in US-China trade talks, Mr Pompeo replied simply: “No.”

Since Ms Meng’s arrest in Vancouver airport on a US arrest warrant in December, ties between Ottawa and Beijing have fallen to a historically low ebb.

Two Canadians, businessman Michael Svapor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, were arrested and charged with espionage shortly afterwards in what is widely viewed as a reprisal by Beijing.

“Our team is focussed on helping those two Canadians be released,” Mr Pompeo said later ahead of a meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

Mr Trump spoke directly to Chinese president Xi Jinping about their “arbitrary detention” in June, he told journalists.

Mr Pompeo, 55, also slapped down a question comparing their confinement with that of Ms Meng, accusing the journalist of taking “the Chinese line”.

Mr Pompeo was visiting Canada ahead of the G7 meeting in France, where relations with China will be discussed.

On Friday, Beijing escalated the trade dispute, announcing fresh tariffs on US imports worth $75 billion (£61 billion).