China says U.S. should withdraw arrest warrant for Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou, Executive Board Director of the Chinese technology giant Huawei, attends a session of the VTB Capital Investment Forum "Russia Calling!" in Moscow, Russia October 2, 2014. Picture taken October 2, 2014. REUTERS/Alexander Bibik

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's foreign ministry called in the U.S. ambassador on Sunday to lodge a "strong protest" over the arrest in Canada of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's [HWT.UL] chief financial officer, and said the United States should withdraw its arrest warrant.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1 and faces extradition to the United States, which alleges that she covered up her company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite sanctions.

The executive is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told U.S. ambassador Terry Branstad that the United States had made an "unreasonable demand" on Canada to detain Meng while she was passing through Vancouver, China's Foreign Ministry said.

"The actions of the U.S. seriously violated the lawful and legitimate rights of the Chinese citizen, and by their nature were extremely nasty," Le told Branstad, comments similar to those he made to Canada's ambassador the night before.

China strongly urges the United States to pay attention to China's solemn and just position and withdraw the arrest warrant on Meng, Le added.

"China will respond further depending on U.S. actions," he said, without elaborating.

Le also told the Canadian ambassador on Saturday that there would be severe consequences if it did not immediately release Meng.

The United States has been looking since at least 2016 into whether Huawei shipped U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws, Reuters reported in April.

Companies are barred from using the U.S. financial system to funnel goods and services to sanctioned entities.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio told CBS "Face the Nation" on Sunday he would "100 percent absolutely" introduce something in the new Congress that would ban Chinese telecom firms from doing business in the United States.

"We have to understand Chinese companies are not like American companies. OK. We can't even get Apple to crack an iPhone for us in a terrorist investigation," he said.

"When the Chinese ask a telecom company, we want you to turn over all the data you've gathered in the country you're operating in, they will do it. No court order. Nothing like that. They will just do it. They have to. We need to understand that."

Rubio was a strong critic of China's ZTE Corp , which pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Keith Weir and Lisa Shumaker)