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Huawei hearing splits opinion

Langara international students weigh in on Meng Wanzhou controversy

Protestor Max Wong stands outside the Vancouver law courts at Meng Wanzhou's hearing. Photo by Nick Laba
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Reported by Austin Everett 

Some international students from China are urging Canada to stay out of the international Huawei controversy, and release chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Meng has been living under house arrest since December 2018, when she was arrested at Vancouver International Airport. On March 6, she appeared at B.C. Supreme Court where she learned that her next court appearance is on May 8. It will be months before a date is even set for her extradition hearing.

At the hearing, 16-year-old Austin Zhan, a Chinese international student from Pattison High School, said he was shocked by the emotion at the protest, especially when he saw one protester burn the Chinese flag.

“To be honest with you, I feel very mad,” Zhan said.

Joe Zhou, who studies business at Langara and moved to Canada from China five years ago, attended previous protests outside Vancouver law courts urging for Meng’s protection, despite allegations against her. But Zhou said it’s not Canada’s fault.

“People who think independently know that Canada has nothing to do with it, and that China and Canada’s relations should be normal,” he said.

Complicated relationships

The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges for allegedly conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran while doing business as CFO of Huawei Technologies.

Meng’s defence lawyer, Richard Peck, said the case is very complex.

Canada and China’s relationship has changed since the arrest. At least two Canadians living in China have been arrested for alleged activities that undermined China’s national security since Meng was detained.

Langara student Zhu Si Zhe said those arrests were wrong.

“[China] should focus on this incident only,” Zhu said, adding that she worries any escalation between the two countries could lead to the same kind of arbirtary treatment for Chinese students.

Prepared for student visa conflicts

Patrick Yan, an international education consultant who processes visas for Chinese students, said that although relations are suffering between the countries, there are no difficulties in applying for visas.

“No issues so far,” Yan said, though he is prepared for conflicts as Meng’s hearings progress.

Many Chinese students say they have followed the controversy via WeChat and Chinese news outlets.

With 855 registered this year, Chinese students are the second-largest group of international students at Langara after those from India.

Reporter Austin Everett on the scene of Meng Wanzhou’s hearing:

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