For much of the past year, since Meng Wanzhou's arrest at Vancouver Airport in December 2018, one of the water cooler questions for the global telecom industry has been: How does the Huawei CFO fill her days?
Now the answer has been revealed in an open letter penned by Meng -- also known as Sabrina -- and published on Huawei's website. And it's to oil painting, reading and -- judging by the content of the letter -- poetry that Meng/Sabrina has turned in the absence of international jet-setting, endless meetings and questionable spreadsheets.
"With winter approaching, I can see the dense forests begin to slowly turn the hills around me to a deep crimson," she begins her letter. "The beauty of nature is clear to anyone who looks."
Quite. if you are going to be stuck somewhere for a year, it's better to find yourself on the west coast of Canada than holed up in a Chinese detention center, the fate that has befallen Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians arrested by Chinese authorities on charges of spying shortly after Meng was detained in Vancouver.
Meng, just to recap, is wanted by US authorities, who say she lied to financiers about Huawei's links to a company that did business in Iran, one of several countries on the US naughty list. Skycom Tech, the firm that was active in Iran, is just a shell company for Huawei, say prosecutors -- an accusation that Huawei has denied.
While Meng gets to wax lyrical about Canadian forests, Spavor and Kovrig are in conditions that seem less inspiring, judging by a BBC report. Earlier this year, they were being interrogated for between six and eight hours a day and subjected to 24-hour artificial lighting, according to that report.
Back in Canada, meanwhile, Meng does much of her oil painting at her fabulous $4.2 million property in Vancouver, which she reportedly bought in 2009, three years before acquiring an even more expensive home in the area. That would have made for a poor detention center back in January because it was apparently undergoing renovation at the time.
Still, it seems unlikely to be entirely off-limits to Meng, who under the reported terms of her "detention" can freely roam much of Vancouver, watching the hills turn crimson. Before "hardship" struck, she "never had the luxury of taking my time and enjoying my surroundings," she writes. Now she can read books, paint and discuss work matters in detail with colleagues.
International travel is obviously out of the question, even if a stroll to the local Starbucks is allowed. [Editor's note: If that's the only coffee outlet within reach, then that's a form of punishment...] But if Meng thinks her Vancouver detention is bad, she may have to reassess her definition of hardship in the possible event of extradition to the US. Dense forests and crimson hills aren't typically a feature of the US prison system.
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— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading