Canadian authorities said today that they have arrested the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies for possible extradition to the United States.
China demanded her immediate release, and a former Canadian envoy to China warned the case might lead to retaliation by the Chinese against American and Canadian executives.
Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sunday. Meng is a prominent member of Chinese society as deputy chairman of the board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.
McLeod said a publication ban had been imposed in the case and he could not provide further details. The ban was sought by Meng, who has a bail hearing Saturday, he said.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that US authorities are investigating whether Chinese tech giant Huawei violated sanctions on Iran.
Huawei issued a statement saying Meng was changing flights in Canada when she was detained "on behalf of the United States of America" to face "unspecified charges" in New York.
"The company has been provided very little information regarding the charges and is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms Meng," the statement said.
Huawei said it complies with all laws and rules where it operates, including export controls and sanctions of the United Nations, the US and European Union.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said her human rights were violated and demanded she be freed.
"The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim," the statement said.
A US Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
In April, China appealed to Washington to avoid damaging business confidence following the Wall Street Journal report that US authorities were investigating whether Huawei violated sanctions on Iran amid spiraling technology tensions.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said then that China hoped the US would refrain from taking actions that could further undermine investor confidence in the US business environment and harm its domestic economy.
In New Zealand, the GCSB barred Huawei from working with Spark to set up a 5G network over security concerns.