China celebrates Meng Wanzhou’s return as a victory — even at the cost of its global image

From the second a government-chartered aircraft lifted Meng out of Canada — the place the CFO spent practically three years residing beneath home arrest in her multimillion-dollar mansion her journey dwelling has change into an all-out nationalist propaganda blitz.

A crimson carpet and crowds waving Chinese language flags awaited her on the tarmac within the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, the place the tech large Huawei is headquartered. Patriotic slogans and songs resounded within the arrival corridor of the airport. Downtown skyscrapers lit up with messages welcoming her dwelling.

The occasion was broadcast reside by state media, and the web was abuzz with pleasure. A web based livestream by state broadcaster CCTV ran for six straight hours, attracting greater than 83 million views. That is greater than double the 38 million views of the launch of China’s manned mission to ship three astronauts into house in June.
“Without a powerful motherland, I wouldn’t have my freedom today,” Meng wrote in a prolonged social media submit throughout her flight, which was broadly shared on-line and skim out phrase for phrase by a state tv anchor.
Freed from Canada, Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou hailed as hero upon return to China
For the home viewers, Meng’s homecoming has been framed as a narrative of China’s diplomatic victory and an indication of its rising political clout. In response to that narrative, Meng is an harmless sufferer of “political persecution” by the USA to crush China’s high-tech business.

“The situation has been portrayed [within China] as the Chinese government standing up to the US to get a citizen back; they stood up to the bully and the bully backed down,” mentioned Jeremy Daum, a authorized professional on the Paul Tsai China Middle at Yale Regulation College.

State media experiences highlighted the very fact Meng pleaded not responsible, however left out her admission that she misled banking large HSBC (HBCYF) about Huawei’s relationship with an Iranian subsidiary. US prosecutors allege that might have put the financial institution liable to sanctions violations.

“It’s a very biased presentation of the whole story, but it’s not surprising,” mentioned Jean-Pierre Cabestan, an professional on Chinese language politics at Hong Kong Baptist College. “[It’s] hiding part of the truth — the part that does not serve China’s interests and its government’s image.”

Beijing’s propaganda win at dwelling stands in stark distinction to the hit the nation’s popularity has taken overseas. Within the eyes of many observers, the ruling Communist Social gathering has dropped any pretense about its obvious willingness to take political hostages by releasing two Canadians moments after Meng gained her freedom.

Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur with enterprise ties to North Korea, have been detained on espionage prices days after Meng was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018. The transfer was broadly interpreted as direct retaliation for Meng. Beijing has repeatedly denied it was holding the 2 Canadians as political hostages.

Two Canadians imprisoned by China have been released, Prime Minister Trudeau says
“I have to point out that the Meng Wanzhou incident and the cases of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are entirely different in nature,” a Chinese language International Ministry spokesperson mentioned earlier this month, accusing Canada of getting “sensationalized” what it known as “isolated cases.”

Donald C. Clarke, a specialist in Chinese language legislation at George Washington College, mentioned whereas he thinks it was clear from the outset that the detention of the pair was related to Meng’s case, the scholarly and journalistic communities have been shocked by how carefully their releases have been timed.

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“We all thought China would put more of a fig leaf on the exchange, by waiting a certain amount of time,” he mentioned. “One way of interpreting this is China anticipates engaging in hostage taking in the future, and is strengthening its bargaining position by showing what a reliable deal maker it is — that if you just give us what we want, we’ll free the hostages right away, with no fuss.

“For those who do not belief the kidnapper to truly return the hostages, you may not give them such an enormous ransom.”

Initially, Chinese state media was mostly silent on the release of the two Canadians, while discussions about their fate were scrubbed from social media. Then, on Sunday night, several state-run outlets reported the Canadians had “confessed their guilt for crimes” and were bailed out on medical grounds — though they did not mention Meng’s case.

But those reports barely made a splash in China, and came well after the nationalist craze celebrating Meng’s homecoming.

Supporters of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou gather at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in southern China to welcome her return.

“The extreme nationalism that was displayed in China upon Meng’s return is a sign that Beijing’s technique was profitable in their very own eyes,” said Drew Thompson, a visiting senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

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“We are able to subsequently count on to see hostage-taking of international businesspeople as a recurring function of China’s diplomacy.”

While Beijing revels in its triumph of nationalist glory, experts say that celebration glosses over potential further damage to China’s international reputation and its relations with Canada, a country with which it has traditionally had strong business ties.

“I believe they’ve actually poisoned relations with Canada for fairly a while,” Clarke said. “They’ve taken an enormous PR hit.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of Canadians surveyed this year held negative opinions of China — compared with 40% in 2017. Political tensions between Ottawa and Beijing have also become increasingly fraught. In February, Canada’s Parliament passed a motion declaring China committed genocide against its minority Uyghur Muslim population. A month later, Canada joined the United States and other allies in sanctioning two Chinese officials for “severe human rights abuses” against Uyghurs. China has denied the accusations.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou reaches agreement with US to resolve fraud charges

The release of Meng and the two Michaels also won’t likely help Huawei or Beijing avert hefty sanctions that Washington has handed the country. Analysts at Jefferies said Sunday they did not think Meng’s release would cause the United States to lift sanctions on Huawei that allow the company to access chipsets that help it make 5G equipment, for example.

“[US President Joe] Biden’s take care of China on Meng already acquired some Republican’s criticism” as “capitulation to China,” the analysts wrote in a research note. Huawei has previously acknowledged that its business has been severely hampered by the US punishments.

In many Western countries, concerns are also growing over China’s “hostage diplomacy,” experts say.

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By trumpeting that China is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve its international ambitions, people from countries whose governments have upset Beijing could feel increasingly worried about traveling there.

“Although the chance for any particular person [being detained] is extraordinarily low, if it occurs, the burden of that’s extraordinarily excessive … For those who’re a rational calculator, you might be gonna be involved about this,” Clarke said.

But Beijing values domestic support more than international image, said Cabestan from Hong Kong Baptist University.

“[Internationally,] they care extra about laborious energy than comfortable energy,” he said. “For [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, it is higher to be feared than to be liked.”