(Add Huawei statement, change media slug)
By David Stanway
SHANGHAI, Sept. 25 (Reuters) – Chinese state media on Saturday welcomed telecoms giant Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou back to the “homeland” after more than 1,000 days of house arrest in Canada , on what they called unfounded accusations of bank fraud.
But they kept silent about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians released from Chinese detention in an apparent act of reciprocity from Beijing.
China’s state-owned CCTV broadcaster broadcast a statement from the Huawei executive, written as its plane flew over the North Pole, avoiding US airspace.
Her eyes were “blurry with tears” as she approached “the embrace of the great homeland,” Meng said. “Without a strong homeland, I wouldn’t have the freedom I have today.”
Meng was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, claiming she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions.
After more than two years of legal wrangling, she was finally allowed to leave Canada and return to China on Friday, after reaching a deal with U.S. prosecutors.
Huawei, founded by Meng’s father, Ren Zhengfei, said in a statement that it “looks forward to seeing Ms. Meng return home safely to reunite with her family.” He said he would continue to defend himself against the US charges.
Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest, were released hours later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency officially acknowledged the end of Meng’s house arrest on Saturday, attributing his release to “the Chinese government’s unremitting efforts.”
Hu Xijin, editor of the ruling Communist Party-backed tabloid Global Times, wrote on Twitter that “international relations have fallen into chaos” following Meng’s “three painful years.”
He added, “No arbitrary detention of Chinese is allowed.
However, neither Hu nor other media have mentioned the release of Spavor and Kovrig, and reactions on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo have been sparse.
The Foreign Ministry has not commented publicly.
China has previously denied engaging in “hostage diplomacy,” insisting that the arrest and detention of the two Canadians was in no way related to the extradition proceedings against Meng.
Spavor was accused of providing photographs of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in prison in August. Kovrig was still awaiting his conviction. (Reporting by David Stanway in Shanghai; Additional reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and William Mallard)