The deal to release Meng Wanzhou could reduce a nettlesome conflict in U.S.-China relations.
President Donald J. Trump took an aggressively adversarial stance toward China, castigating Beijing for what he called unfair trade policies, blaming it for the coronavirus pandemic, blocking Chinese technology companies from the lucrative American market and imposing heavy tariffs on Chinese exports. The Trump administration also accused Huawei of stealing technology from its Western rivals.
Since coming to office, President Biden has also taken a tough position on China. He has sought to establish the United States as a democratic counterpoint to the authoritarian country, stressing the importance of the West being independent from Chinese technology companies like Huawei, the maker of next-generation communications networks.
But American officials have also sought common ground in areas like climate change and now the Huawei deal.
In their first conversation in seven months, Mr. Biden spoke in early September with President Xi Jinping of China, expressing concern over China’s cyber-activities while arguing that the leaders of the world’s two largest economies could set aside their differences to work together on measures to address global warming. It was only the second time that the leaders had spoken since Mr. Biden’s inauguration, a measure of the rising tensions between the two nations as they seek to tame each others’ global influence.
The Huawei case has deeply undermined perceptions of China in Canada, which has become a hub for Huawei’s research and development operations and also hosts a large number of Chinese students. China is Canada’s second largest trading partner after the United States.
According to a May study by the Angus Reid Institute, a leading polling company, just 14 percent of Canadians have a favorable view of China. A majority of respondents said that China’s freeing of the two Canadians who were detained soon after Ms. Meng’s arrest was a necessary condition for revamping relations.
Gordon Houlden, director emeritus of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, cautioned that Ms. Meng’s release would not radically shift Canada-China relations in the short-term. But he said that it could help spur a healing of sorts, in particular by emboldening closer economic and educational ties between the two countries.
“Canada flies close to the United States when it comes to China, so much will depend on the approach of the Biden administration,” he said. “China doesn’t have an interest in prolonging the misery of Canada but it will take years for things to be repaired.”