China prepared to give a hero’s welcome to Huawei Technologies Co.’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou as she returned to the country three years after her arrest in Canada.
Meng was due to land Saturday in Shenzhen, where Huawei is based, around 10 p.m. local time and her plane’s flight trajectory was hashtagged on the Chinese social media site Weibo, indicating netizens there are eagerly awaiting her arrival.
At about 6 p.m, the Ping’an Finance Center in Shenzhen, the city’s tallest building, was scrolling “Welcome Home, Meng Wanzhou” across its facade, according to a Weibo post by Shenzhen TV. Meanwhile the state broadcaster is covering her arrival live, showing scenes of runways at Shenzhen Bao’an airport, hours before her landing.
Meng boarded an Air China plane on Friday to return to Shenzhen after striking a deferred prosecution agreement with U.S. authorities to resolve criminal charges against her. She had been under house arrest in Vancouver for almost three years as she battled extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges.
“Facts have long proved that this is a political persecution against a Chinese citizen with the aim to oppress China’s high-tech companies,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement. “The ‘fraud’ accusations against Ms. Meng are nothing but fabrication.”
The subject of Meng’s return was trending on Chinese social media Saturday, attracting more than 110 million views on the country’s Weibo.
An opinion piece to be published by the official People’s Daily on Sunday will call Meng’s return a triumph for the Chinese people, CCTV reported late Saturday. The article, to be titled, “No Force Will Prevent China’s Progress,” will say the peaceful return of Meng shows the lasting strength of China’s Communist Party and the country’s 1.4 billion people.
In a post on her Wechat account reported by state media, Meng called China her backbone and said her freedom was thanks to a powerful home nation. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also wrote “Welcome Home” in a Weibo post.
As part of the deal that led to Meng’s release, China set free two Canadian citizens — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — who were detained within days of Meng’s December 2018 arrest. The Two Michaels, as they came to be known, arrived in Calgary in the early hours of Saturday and were greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, AFP reported.
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