China grants Canada access to citizen detained in Beijing

by Ben Pena December 15, 2018, 0:26
China grants Canada access to citizen detained in Beijing

Spavor's arrest was publicly disclosed only a few days after a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig, was arrested in Beijing "on suspicion of engaging in activities that harm China's state security".

Earlier Friday, Tourism Minister Melanie Joly announced she won't go to China to mark the end of a special year of tourism exchanges, as relations between the two countries continued to plummet.

"But for now, Canadians are standing alone at the edge of an abyss, with a Chinese noose around our necks and American shivs sticking out of our backs", said an editorial in Canada's National Post.

One, former diplomat Michael Kovrig, was held on Monday night by Beijing's state security bureau. He has also introduced some of his guests to Kim Jong Un, and once shared a photo of himself and the North Korean leader during a 2013 meeting aboard a yacht.

Officials say China had so far not linked Kovrig's detention to the arrest in Vancouver on Dec 1 of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, which infuriated Beijing.

She was released on Can$10 million (US$7.5 million) bail by a court in Vancouver on Tuesday pending a USA extradition hearing.

Her words mark another potentially hard moment in ties between Canada and the United States, which were heavily strained during more than a year of talks to negotiate a new North American trade pact.

Spokesman Adam Austen said Canadian officials continue to be in direct contact with Chinese authorities, but due to Privacy Act provision, Foreign Affairs can't divulge further information about Kovrig and Spavor's cases.

Freeland said Chinese officials, including China's ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, had not connected the different issues in conversations with the Canadian government.

Friends and experts say Kovrig may have become a "hostage" and "pawn" in the three-nation feud.

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Spavor is director of Paektu Cultural Exchange, an office that arranges sports and educational exchanges with North Korea. She was detained after a USA request for her extradition to face charges of violating sanctions against Iran.

Freeland indicated Spavor notified Canadian officials he was "being asked questions by Chinese authorities" but said her department has "not been able to make contact since he raised those concerns".

"The legal rights of the two Canadians are being safeguarded", Lu said during a media briefing Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

The Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission must also approve the proposed deal between the third and fourth largest US wireless carriers.

CTV Calgary reached out to Global Affairs Canada about Spavor's arrest and in a statement, the agency said, it is aware that Spavor is missing in China.

Canadian officials say a wide range of topics was planned for their talks, including Russia-Ukraine tensions and issues related to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but the ongoing tensions with China will definitely be on the table.

If tried and found guilty in the United States, Meng could face up to 30 years in prison.

"The world is a small place and some forget that when they take certain actions, their own people may get in trouble", said Weibo user Liu Meng.

Pity Canada. No sooner does it accede to President Trump's demand for a renegotiation of its free-trade deal with America than it finds itself caught in the crossfire of Washington's trade war with China.

"This is a situation we are watching closely as the political environment is unpredictable and could have significant negative consequences", Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada, an industry group whose members include grain handlers Richardson International Ltd., Cargill Inc., and Glencore Plc's Viterra unit, said in an email.

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