China welcomes Huawei executive home, Trudeau hugs Canadians freed by Beijing

People wave Chinese flags behind a banner welcoming Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou as she arrives from Canada at Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China September 25, 2021. CCTV via REUTERS TV

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou arrived in China on Saturday, ending her near three-year U.S. extradition fight, the same day two Canadians detained by Beijing for more than 1,000 days returned home, potentially paving the way for improved ties between China and the two western allies.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengfei, was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement with U.S. prosecutors on Friday to end a bank fraud case against her.

The extradition drama has been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signalling that the case had to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.

Two Canadians detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – were embraced on the tarmac by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after they landed in Calgary.

“You’ve shown incredible strength, resilience, and perseverance,” Trudeau said in a Twitter post with photos of him welcoming them home. “Know that Canadians across the country will continue to be here for you, just as they have been.”

In the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Meng wore a patriotic red-coloured dress as she exited a plane to be greeted by well-wishers.

“I’m finally back home,” Meng was quoted as saying by the Global Times tabloid backed by the ruling Communist Party. “The waiting in a foreign country was full of suffering. I was speechless the moment my feet touched Chinese soil.”

Chinese state media welcomed Meng back but were silent about Kovrig and Spavor, who were released hours after Meng on Friday.

Huawei said in a statement that it “looked forward to seeing Ms. Meng returning home safely to be reunited with her family.” It said it would continue to defend itself against U.S. charges.

The agreement opened U.S. President Joe Biden to criticism from Washington’s China hawks who argue his administration is capitulating to China and one of its top companies at the centre of a global technology rivalry between the two countries.

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