TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a coup for Taiwan's "mask diplomacy" and an embarrassment for the communist regime in Beijing, Huawei scion and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) was seen in a Canadian court on Monday (Sept. 28) donning a mask with the "Made in Taiwan" label clearly visible.
In her first court appearance in months, Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, appeared in a Canadian court on Monday to continue her fight against extradition from her house arrest in Vancouver to the U.S. to face charges of fraud and conspiracy. Most notable to Taiwanese observers was the fact that she was wearing a purple surgical face mask with the words "Made in Taiwan" in plain sight on the lower righthand corner of the face covering.
The fact that she was wearing a mask manufactured in Taiwan was extraordinary given that Meng is at the eye of the storm for an intense geopolitical rivalry between China and the U.S. and its ally — Taiwan. Meng's company, which is a national champion for China and has numerous ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and People's Liberation Army (PLA), has become a major target of sanctions and litigation by the Trump administration amid the trade war between the U.S. and China.
"Made in Taiwan" label visible on lower right corner of mask. (CBC website photo)
At the same time, China has been operating a campaign to isolate Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) refusal upon first taking office in 2016 to recognize the mythical "1992 Consensus." Since then, Beijing has been busy stealing away diplomatic allies and intimidating government bodies, corporations, and universities into de-listing Taiwan as a country.
When the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began early this year, the rivalry between China and Taiwan entered a new phase, with the Chinese Communist Party exploiting the outbreak to sell substandard or faulty test kits, ventilators, masks, and PPE to countries in need, while Taiwan has engaged in "mask diplomacy" providing the world with millions of high-quality masks, as well as mask production lines. Such is the reputation of Taiwanese-made masks for safety and quality, that many White House officials were seen wearing masks with the "Made in Taiwan" label as early as May of this year.
Whether Meng realizes it or not, her gesture has major symbolic meaning for both sides of the Taiwan Strait. For Taiwan, it shows that even the scion of China's national champion prefers to wear a Taiwanese-made mask, while for China, it is an embarrassment that such a key figure in China's industry would don a mask made by a rival economy that displays the word "Taiwan" without including "China."
Close-up shows 'Made in Taiwan' imprint clearly visible on Meng's mask. (CBC website photo)
As for Meng's latest court appearance, her lawyer Scott Fenton argued that the purpose of the hearing was to enable the judge to determine if there is an "air of reality" as to whether the accusations against her are valid, reported Reuters. Fenton claimed that the goal of the hearing was not to carry out a "detailed examination" of the allegations, but rather to determine if there is the "realistic possibility" that such allegations can hold up to scrutiny.
Fenton denied that Meng had ever lied to authorities and maintained that she had provided all the necessary information to HSBC about her company's dealings with Iran to make a risk assessment. Fenton claimed that "There is not a shred of evidence that Skycom or Huawei were involved in any prohibited activity in terms of the actual commerce in Iran."
Meng is being charged with misleading an HSBC executive in 2013 about Huawei's true ties with Skycom, which has been accused of circumventing U.S. sanctions on Iran by selling telecom equipment to the Middle Eastern country.
'Made in Taiwan' visible on lower right corner of mask. (Reuters photo)