The first stage of an extradition hearing for a senior executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei started in a Vancouver courtroom M onday, a case that has infuriated Beijing, caused a diplomatic uproar between China and Canada and complicated high-stakes trade talks between China and the United States.
Canada's arrest of chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei's founder, in late 2018 at America's request enraged Beijing to the point it detained two Canadians in apparent retaliation.
Huawei represents China's progress in becoming a technological power and has been a subject of U.S. security concerns for years. Beijing views Meng's case as an attempt to contain China's rise.
"Our government has been clear. We are a rule of law country and we honor our extradition treaty commitments," Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a Cabinet retreat in Manitoba. "It is what we need to do and what we will do."
China's foreign ministry on Monday accused the United States and Canada of violating Meng's rights and called for her release.
"It is completely a serious political incident," said a ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang. He urged Canada to "correct mistakes with concrete actions, release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and let her return safely as soon as possible."
Washington accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It says Meng, 47, committed fraud by misleading the HSBC bank about the company's business dealings in Iran.
Meng, who is free on bail and living in one of the two Vancouver mansions she owns, sat next to her lawyers wearing a black dress with white polka dots. She earlier waved at reporters as she arrived at court.
Meng denies the U.S. allegations. Her defense team says comments by President Donald Trump suggest the case against her is politically motivated.
"We trust in Canada's judicial system, which will prove Ms. Meng's innocence," Huawei said in a statement as the proceedings began.
Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver as she was changing flights — on the same day that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for trade talks.
Prosecutors have stressed that Meng's case is separate from the wider China-U.S. trade dispute, but Trump undercut that message weeks after her arrest when he said he would consider intervening in the case if it would help forge a trade deal with Beijing.
China and the U.S. reached a "Phase 1" trade agreement last week, but most analysts say any meaningful resolution of the main U.S. allegation — that Beijing uses predatory tactics in its drive to supplant America's technological supremacy — could require years of contentious talks. Trump had raised the possibility of using Huawei's fate as a bargaining chip in the trade talks, but the deal announced Wednesday didn't mention the company.
Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for cellphone and internet companies. Washington is pressuring other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft.
The initial stage of Meng's extradition hearing this week is focusing on whether Meng's alleged crimes are crimes both in the United States and Canada. Her lawyers filed a a motion Friday arguing that Meng's case is really about U.S. sanctions against Iran, not a fraud case. Canada does not have similar sanctions on Iran.
Richard Peck, Meng's lawyer, said in court that the fraud allegations are a "facade" and the charges are really about the United States attempting to enforce its sanctions on Iran. "Would we be here in the absence of U.S. sanctions law? My response is no," Peck said.
Arguments will continue Tuesday and throughout the week.
The second phase, scheduled for June, will consider defense allegations that Canada Border Services, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the FBI violated Meng's rights while collecting evidence before she was actually arrested.
The extradition case could take years to resolve if there are appeals. Nearly 90% of those arrested in Canada on extradition requests from the United States. were surrendered to U.S. authorities between 2008 and 2018.
In apparent retaliation for Meng's arrest, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor. The two men have been denied access to lawyers and family and are being held in prison cells where the lights are kept on 24-hours-a-day.
China has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, including canola oil seed and meat. Last January, China also handed a death sentence to a convicted Canadian drug smuggler in a sudden retrial.
"That's mafia-style pressure," Lewis, the Washington-based analyst, said.
The number of people infected with a new virus in China tripled over the weekend, with the outbreak spreading from Wuhan to other major cities, reports BBC.
There are now more than 200 cases, mostly in Wuhan, though the respiratory illness has also been detected in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Three people have died. Japan, Thailand and South Korea have reported cases.
The new strain of coronavirus, which causes a type of pneumonia, can pass from person to person, China confirmed.
Respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan, who heads the health commission team investigating the virus, said 14 medical workers had caught it while treating patients, state media reported.
The sharp rise comes as millions of Chinese prepare to travel for the Lunar New Year holidays.
Although the outbreak is believed to have originated from a market, officials and scientists are yet to determine exactly how it has been spreading.
The outbreak has revived memories of the Sars virus - also a coronavirus - that killed 774 people in the early 2000s across dozens of countries, mostly in Asia. Analysis of the genetic code of the new virus shows it is more closely related to Sars than any other human coronavirus.
Experts in the UK told the BBC the number of people infected could still be far greater than official figures suggest, with estimates closer to 1,700.
What we know about the virus
2019-nCoV, as it's been labelled, is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans
Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people
Scientists believe an animal source is "the most likely primary source" but that some human-to-human transmission has occurred
Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
People are being advised to avoid "unprotected" contact with live animals, thoroughly cook meat and eggs, and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
Source: World Health Organization
Who has been infected?
Authorities in Wuhan, a central Chinese city of 11 million that has been at the heart of the outbreak, on Monday said 136 new cases had been confirmed over the weekend, with a third person dying of the virus. There had previously been only 62 confirmed cases in the city.
As of late Sunday, officials said 170 people in Wuhan were still being treated in hospital, including nine in critical condition.
Beijing also confirmed its first cases, with five people infected. Shanghai confirmed its first case on Monday - a 56-year-old woman who came from Wuhan.
In the city of Shenzhen, a major tech hub close to Hong Kong, officials said a 66-year-old man showed symptoms of the virus following a trip to visit relatives in Wuhan.
State media reported 14 other cases in Guangdong province.
Four cases have been confirmed abroad - two in Thailand, one in Japan and one in South Korea - all of them involving people who are either from Wuhan or have visited the city.
In South Korea, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a 35-year-old Chinese woman was suffering from a fever and respiratory problems after travelling there from Wuhan. She was put into isolation and treated at a local hospital.
The World Health Organization said it was currently not recommending restrictions on travel or trade, but was providing guidance to countries preparing for any outbreak.
Airports in Singapore, Hong Kong and the Japanese capital Tokyo have been screening air passengers from Wuhan, and US authorities last week announced similar measures at three major airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
What are the Chinese authorities saying?
How China is responding to the outbreak is under close scrutiny, given that it was widely criticised for initially covering up the Sars crisis in late 2002 and early 2003.
On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time publicly addressed the outbreak, saying that the virus must be "resolutely contained".
The foreign ministry, meanwhile, said China was providing "timely information about the disease" and would "work with all parties to deal with the virus".
China's National Health Commission on Monday confirmed that two cases in China were due to human-to-human transmission, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The commission had earlier said there had been no such cases, but that the virus had instead crossed the species barrier and come from infected animals at a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan.
The WHO also said it believed there had been "some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts".
"As more… cases are identified and more analysis undertaken, we will get a clearer picture of disease severity and transmission patterns," it wrote on Twitter.
It noted that the rise in cases in China was a result of "increased searching and testing for [the virus] among people sick with respiratory illness".
What impact could Lunar New Year have?
From Friday, most Chinese will begin their week-long Lunar New Year holidays.
It's a time when hundreds of millions travel around China to visit family, raising fears that authorities will not be able to adequately monitor further spread of the disease.
Wuhan is a transport hub and authorities there have for nearly a week been using temperature scanners at airports, and train and bus stations. Those showing signs of fever have been registered, given masks and taken to hospitals and clinics.
Authorities say they will now also be screening everyone leaving the city.
At Beijing's central railway station, some travellers donned masks but did not appear overly concerned about the virus.
"Watching the news, I do feel a little worried. But I haven't taken precautionary measures beyond wearing regular masks," Li Yang, a 28-year-old account manager travelling to the region of Inner Mongolia, told the AFP news agency.
But the tone in Chinese social media, where the outbreak has been a top trending topic, was different.
"Who knows how many people who have been to Wuhan may be unaware that they have already been infected?" one Weibo user said.
An armed security guard shot and killed a man suspected of fatally shooting a woman and injuring 15 more people outside a bar in Kansas City, Missouri, police said Monday.
A motive for the attack shortly before midnight Sunday outside 9ine Ultra Lounge was not immediately clear.
Kansas City Police Capt. David Jackson told reporters that responding officers found "a chaotic scene." A man and a woman were killed and police believe the shooter is the deceased man, Jackson said. It was not clear if the gunman targeted anyone in particular, he said.
A spokesman said a gunman opened fire on a line of people waiting to enter the bar. A preliminary investigation indicates an armed security guard killed the shooter, Jackson said.
At least 15 went to hospitals with injuries related to the shooting, police said. It's unclear whether all the injured victims suffered gunshot wounds. At least three people are in critical condition, police said.
Also late Sunday, two people were shot to death and at least five were injured in an attack outside a bar in San Antonio, Texas. The suspected gunman was still on the loose Monday, police said.
A Facebook post on 9ine Ultra Lounge's page advertised Sunday night's "Sold Out Sundays" event, which appeared to be a celebration of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs — featured on the event's artwork — beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl.
"It just put such a tragic end to such a wonderful day in Kansas City," Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at the scene, referencing the win. "It's just hard to stand here and talk about this kind of tragedy on really one of the best days Kansas City has had in a long time."
Heavy snow, rain and gale-force winds lashed many parts of Spain on Monday, killing at least two people and prompting five provinces to go on top emergency alert.
The storm forced the closure of Alicante Airport and some 30 roads in the eastern region.
A man died Sunday in the northern province of Leon when he was run over by a car as he tried to put snow chains on his own vehicle. A homeless woman was found dead Monday after sleeping outside during the storm in the eastern town of Gandia.
The storm damaged property on the seafronts of Gandia and other towns as well, according to news videos and pictures.
The bad weather was expected to last until Wednesday.
The Special Representative of UN secretary-general for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on Monday urged the Iraqi authorities for a renewed push for reform.
She expressed her concern about violence during the ongoing anti-government protests over corruption, lack of jobs and public services.
"Two months after Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced his resignation, political leaders remain unable to agree on the way forward. It is now high time to put these words into action and to avoid further derailing of these protests by those pursuing their own objectives," Hennis-Plasschaert, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), said in a statement.
The top UN envoy for Iraq urged the Iraqi authorities to do everything to protect peaceful demonstrators. She also called on protesters to remain peaceful, avoiding counterproductive violence and destruction of property, according to the statement.
The statement came amid escalation in demonstrations as hundreds of demonstrators have been holed up in a sit-in protest for more than three months in downtown Baghdad.
Iraqi security forces intensified security measures and clashed with demonstrators in several areas in Baghdad, the official said.
The latest escalation in protests started on Sunday night, hours before the end of a week deadline put previously by the demonstrators for the political blocs to come up with a new government.
On Jan. 13, demonstrators in Nasriyah, the capital of Dhi Qar province, and other Iraqi cities announced a period of one week for the political blocs to form a new government to replace the government of caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, otherwise the protesters would totally block main roads across Iraq and close the government institutions.
Mass anti-government demonstrations have continued in Baghdad and other cities in central and southern Iraq since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more job opportunities.