China opposes release of detained Canadians

Clay Curtis
December 25, 2018

Canada's top diplomat Chrystia Freeland on Saturday called on allies for support in securing the release of the detained Canadians noting that the arrests are a "worrying precedent" for the entire worldwide community.

"We are impressing upon the Chinese how it is important that they release those detainees because this is something that Canadians, quite frankly, and people around the world are extremely disturbed by", Trudeau told reporters during a surprise visit with peacekeepers in Gao, Mali.

"For the two Canadians who have been arrested in China, we urge that they be treated fairly and in compliance with the rule of law", the country's foreign office said in a statement.

Chinese authorities had previously taken compulsory measures in accordance with the law against two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were suspected of engaging in activities that endanger China's national security, Hua said.

The German foreign ministry said it was closely following the cases of former diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor. He was detained on December 10.

Kovrig is a senior adviser at the International Crisis Group think tank, while Spavor facilitates trips to North Korea, including visits by former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman. He was reportedly acquainted with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

August 22: A NY court issues a warrant for the arrest of Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

Meng was released on bail last week in Vancouver pending her USA extradition hearing on fraud charges related to sanctions-breaking business dealings with Iran.

She says Kovrig and Spavor's rights are being respected in Chinese custody.

Six influential Berlin-based think tanks issued a joint statement last week calling for the allegations against the detained Canadian citizens "to be clarified by the relevant Chinese authorities" and urging "objective and fair treatment in line with worldwide standards".

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In an interview with The Canadian Press, Trudeau says Canada will shortly be granted consular access to Spavor.

"Their so-called human rights have different standards for different countries' citizens", Hua added. "We understand that working co-operatively, collectively with allies, is a very effective way for Canada to work in the world and that is what we have been doing", Freeland said on the conference call.

Meng has been released on bail pending the outcome of an extradition hearing.

Canada arrested Meng at the request of the United States, which is engaged in a trade war with China.

"Canada is respecting its global obligations by following the terms of the extradition treaty with the US".

December 19: Global Affairs Canada says a third Canadian has been detained in China.

Freeland thanked the US, Britain and the European Union for their support, saying that Canada will continue to work with its allies to get the Canadians released.

Freeland's office said she had no response to Hua's remarks, beyond her comments Friday and Saturday.

"Canada is really just caught in between the USA and China, we're like a scapegoat", a businesswoman in education said, requesting anonymity for fear of reprisals.

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