China’s celebration of Meng Wanzhou’s return is a victory – even at the expense of its global image

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Take Meng Cong from a government chartered plane Canada-The CFO has been under house arrest in her multimillion-dollar mansion for nearly three years Her journey home has Become a full-scale nationalist propaganda blitz.

Red carpet and crowd of waving Chinese Flags were waiting for her on the tarmac in the southern city of Shenzhen, where the technology giant Huawei’s headquarters are located. Patriotic slogans and songs sounded in the arrival hall of the airport. The skyscrapers in the city center lit up the message of welcoming her home.

The official media broadcasted the event live, and there was an uproar on the Internet.One online live CCTV broadcasted for six consecutive hours and attracted more than 83 million views.That is The 38 million views of China’s manned mission to launch three astronauts into space more than doubled In June.
“Without a strong motherland, there would be no freedom today,” Meng Wanzhou wrote on social media during the flight. The post was widely circulated on the Internet. read out The anchor of the national television station verbatim.
Released from Canada, Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was hailed as a hero after returning to China
For domestic audiences, Meng Wanzhou’s return has always been Mount As the story of China’s diplomatic victory and a sign of its growing political influence. According to that narrative, Meng is “the innocent victim”Political persecution“The United States suppressed China’s high-tech industry.

“The situation has been portrayed [within China] As the Chinese government stood up against the United States to allow citizens to come back; Jeremy Daum, a legal expert at the Paul Tsai China Center of Yale Law School, said:

Highlighted by national media reports The fact that Meng did not plead guilty, but skipped her Admission She misled the banking giants HSBC Bank (Cogeneration) Regarding the relationship between Huawei and its Iranian subsidiary.U.S. prosecutors said This may expose the bank to the risk of violating sanctions.

Jean-Pierre Cabestan, an expert on Chinese politics at Hong Kong Baptist University, said: “This is a very biased statement of the whole story, but it is not surprising.”[It’s] Hiding part of the truth-the part that is not in line with China’s interests and the image of the government. “

Beijing’s domestic propaganda victory is in stark contrast to the blow to the country’s reputation abroad.In the eyes of many observers, the ruling Communist Party no longer pretends that it is obviously willing to pass Release two Canadians Soon after Meng was free.

A few days after Meng was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018, former Canadian diplomat Michael Cummingh and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur with business ties to North Korea, were detained on charges of espionage. The move was widely interpreted as direct retaliation For Meng. Beijing has repeatedly denied holding the two Canadians as political hostages.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said that two Canadians detained by China have been released
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “I must point out that the Meng Wanzhou incident is completely different in nature from the cases of Michael Spavor and Cumming Kai.” Said Earlier this month, he accused Canada of “sensational” so-called “isolated cases”.

Donald C. Clark, an expert on Chinese law at George Washington University, said that although he thought it was clear from the beginning that their detention was related to Meng’s case, the academic and press were surprised that their release was closely related to Meng’s case. timing.

“We all think that China will put more figs He said: “By waiting for a certain period of time, leave a place on the exchange.” He said. If you give us what we want, we will release the hostages immediately without making any fuss.

“If you don’t believe that the kidnappers will really return the hostages, you may not give them such a large ransom.”

Initially, Chinese state media mostly remained silent on the release of the two Canadians, and discussions about their fate were deleted on social media. Then, on Sunday night, several state-run media reported that Canadians “confessed to the crime” and were granted bail on medical grounds even though they did not mention Meng’s case.

But these reports caused little sensation in China, and they appeared well after celebrating the nationalistic boom of Meng’s return home.

Supporters of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou gathered at Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport in South China to greet her return.

Drew Thompson, visiting senior researcher at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, said: “The strong nationalism shown by China after Meng returned to China shows that Beijing’s strategy is successful in their eyes.”

“Therefore, we can look forward to taking foreign businessmen hostage as a recurring feature of Chinese diplomacy.”

Experts say that although Beijing revels in the glorious victory of nationalism This celebration concealed the potential further damage to China’s international reputation and its relationship with Canada, which has traditionally had close business ties with Canada.

Clark said: “I think they have indeed poisoned the relationship with Canada for a long time.” “They have been hit hard in public relations.”

according to Pew Research Center, 73% of Canadians surveyed this year have a negative view of China-compared with 40% in 2017. Political tensions between Ottawa and Beijing have also become increasingly worrying. In February, the Canadian Parliament Pass a bill Announcing China’s genocide of its ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims.One month later, Canada Join the U.S. and other allies Sanctioned two Chinese officials for “serious violations of human rights” against Uyghurs. China denies these allegations.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou reached an agreement with the U.S. to resolve fraud allegations

The release of Meng and the two Michaels is also unlikely to help Huawei or Beijing avoid severe sanctions imposed by Washington on the country. Analysts at Jefferies said on Sunday that they believe that Meng’s release will not lead to the lifting of US sanctions on Huawei, such as allowing the company to obtain chipsets to help it manufacture 5G equipment.

“[US President Joe] Analysts wrote in a research report that Biden’s deal with China on Bangladesh has been criticized by some Republicans, calling it “surrender to China.”Huawei previously admitted that its business has been Severely hindered Being punished by the United States.

Experts say that in many Western countries, concerns about China’s “hostage diplomacy” are also increasing.

By publicizing China’s willingness to achieve its international ambitions at all costs, people in countries whose governments have made Beijing uneasy may become increasingly worried about traveling there.

“Even if the probability of anyone [being detained] It is extremely low, and if it happens, its burden will be very high… If you are a rational calculator, you will worry about this,” Clark said.

But Kabestein of Hong Kong Baptist University said that Beijing values ​​domestic support rather than international image.

“[Internationally,] They care more about hard power than soft power,” he said. [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, it is better to be feared than to be loved. “

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