Meng Wanzhou is still under arrest

By Tyler Cowen

Yes, the CFO of Huawei.  She has been held under house arrest by Canada since December 2018, under the supposition that she will be extradited to the United States to face trial.  Don’t we believe in something like a right to a fair and speedy trial?  Can she get that at this point?

I am not pleading for her innocence, rather this is a major foreign policy and tactical mistake.  How would the United States react if China held say Bill Gates, on the grounds that he had violated some extraterritorial Chinese law?  The U.S.-China relationship is the world’s most important, so why are we partially wrecking it over such a matter?

It is also an erosion of the rule of law in the United States and Canada.  You might plead “independent judiciary,” but when American law “goes extraterritorial,” as it has in this case, there are so many potential cases that the selection of charges and extradition requests cannot help but be political.  How many other people have acted to “conspire to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran”, as are the charges here?  Are they all being detailed and held?  This dilemma is a good reason to limit the reach of American law into extraterritorial matters, namely that there is no objective way to apply the law fairly and impartially against a very large number of (possible) foreign perpetrators operating overseas.  We go after corrupt soccer officials abroad but not corrupt chess officials at FIDE?

There is plenty of evidence (Bloomberg) that North American politicians have been interfering in this matter already, so to cancel the charges and release her would hardly be soiling our constitutional innocence.  Best would be if the Canadian government would step in and end the mess.

To be clear, I am supportive of the United States working very hard to make sure its allies do not install Huawei communications equipment, as that could compromise their and our national security.  Still, that is not the issue here and so it is time to free Meng Wanzhou.