The moment a government chartered plane took out Meng Canada – where the CFO spent nearly three years under house arrest in his multimillion-dollar mansion – her journey home The blitz became an all-out nationalist propaganda.
Crowd waving a red carpet and sugar Flags await him on the tarmac in the southern city of Shenzhen, where tech giant Huawei is headquartered. Patriotic slogans and songs reverberated in the arrival hall of the airport. Downtown skyscrapers sparked messages welcoming him home.
“The situation is portrayed [within China] As the Chinese government stands before the US to get back a citizen; “They stood up to bullying and bullying,” said Jeremy Duan, a legal expert at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School.
“It’s a very partisan presentation of the whole story, but it’s not surprising,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, an expert on Chinese politics at Hong Kong Baptist University. “[It’s] Hiding a part of the truth – the part that doesn’t serve China’s interests and the image of its government.”
Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur with business ties to North Korea, were detained on espionage charges, days after Meng was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018. The move was widely interpreted as direct retaliation. for meng. Beijing has repeatedly denied that it is taking two Canadians as political hostages.
Donald C. Clark, an expert in Chinese law at George Washington University, said that although he thought it was clear from the beginning that the pair were linked to Meng’s case, the scholarly and journalistic community was shocked that his release How meticulous was it? Time
“We all thought China would keep another fig leaf on the exchange, by waiting a certain amount of time,” he said. “One way of interpreting this is that China anticipates engaging in hostage taking in the future, and is consolidating its bargaining position by showing that That it is a reliable deal maker – that if you give us what we want, we will free the hostages immediately without any fuss.
“If you don’t trust the kidnapper to really take the hostages back, you can’t pay them such a huge ransom.”
Initially, Chinese state media was mostly silent on the release of the two Canadians, while discussions about their fate were cleared from social media. Then, on Sunday night, several state-run outlets reported that the Canadians had “confessed their guilt to the crimes” and were granted bail on medical grounds – although they did not mention Meng’s case.
But those reports barely made a splash in China, and came well after the nationalist frenzy celebrating Meng’s homecoming.
Drew Thompson, visiting senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, said: “The intense nationalism displayed in China upon Meng’s return is a sign that Beijing’s strategy was successful in its own right. doing.” .
“We can therefore expect the hostage-taking of foreign merchants to be a recurring feature of China’s diplomacy.”
Experts say Beijing enjoys its triumph of nationalist pride The celebration highlights the potential for further damage to China’s international reputation and its ties with Canada, a country with which it has traditionally had strong trade ties.
“I think they have poisoned relations with Canada for a long time,” Clarke said. “They’ve taken a huge PR hit.”
The release of Meng and Do Michaels also won’t help Huawei or Beijing evade the heavy sanctions that Washington has handed over to the country. Analysts at Jefferies said on Sunday that they did not think Meng’s release would cause the United States to lift a ban on Huawei, which allows the company to use chipsets that help build 5G equipment, for example. for.
In many Western countries, there are also growing concerns over China’s “hostage diplomacy”, experts say.
Having said that China is willing to do anything to achieve its international ambitions, countries whose governments have harassed Beijing may feel anxious about traveling there.
“even though the possibility for a person” [being detained] There is very little, if it does, the burden of it is too much … If you’re a rational calculator, you’d be worried about that,” Clark said.
But Beijing values domestic support more than international image, said Cabestan of Hong Kong Baptist University.
“[Internationally,] They care more about hard power than soft power,” he added [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, it is better to be afraid than to be loved.”