Scheer Says Canadians’ Detention Shows PM’s ‘Naive Approach’ With China

A paramilitary police officer cycles past the embassy of Canada in Beijing on Wednesday.

A second Canadian missing in China is under investigation on suspicion of "engaging in activities" which could "harm China's national security", the state media reported on Thursday.

The United States will help achieve the release of two Canadian nationals being detained in China as tensions among the three countries rise amid the arrest, at the US' request, of Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

Brewing tensions between Canada and China following the arrest of a Huawei Technologies Co. executive have some exporters anxious they could be caught in the crosshairs if the Asian nation decides to retaliate.

Chinese officials announced Thursday that a second Canadian citizen has been arrested and detained by authorities, signaling further escalation of a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

The state security bureau in the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong, which borders North Korea, has been investigating Spavor since December 10, an official news site for the Liaoning Province government said. Spavor has ties to the Kim regime in North Korea and arranges tours for Westerners to there, including the famous visits by Dennis Rodman. Photos on Spavor's social media accounts show him with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un on multiple occasions.

It is unclear, however, whether the cases are linked: Kovrig's detention is widely believed to represent Chinese retaliation for the detention by Canadian authorities two weeks ago of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. Hu said Canada "must do more to restore [Meng's] freedom" beyond the businesswoman's release on $10 million Canadian (€6.6 million) bail on Tuesday.

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.

Canada has also been able to grab a bigger slice of China's wheat and soybean market as the Asian nation feuds with the U.S. Soybean shipments have almost doubled to 1 million tons between August and October while wheat exports rose 97 per cent to 397,200 tons, Canadian Grain Commission data show.

"Washington is using Canada in its trade battle with China", he said.

Spavor has regularly escorted foreigners on trips to North Korea through Paektu Cultural Exchange, the non-governmental organization he founded in 2015.

Lu said the two Canadians legal rights are being "safeguarded".

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

The seeking her extradition on allegations she committed fraud by participating in a scheme to evade that country's trade sanctions in Iran. US law enforcement agencies allege Meng tried to evade USA trade embargoes against Iran.

"China knows it needs to take action because you can see the levels of pollution they have but they also see the economic opportunity", she added.

The United States has been pressuring Canada for several months to ban Huawei equipment from its future 5G cellular networks over security concerns.

China arrested Kovrig and Spavor on Monday, but information was slow to trickle out.

Ms Meng faces up to 30 years in prison in the USA if found guilty of the charges, the Canadian court heard.

"I was stunned to hear of Mike's apparent arrest, which is now the talk of the town in Seoul's NGO, journalistic and diplomatic circles", Andrew Salmon, the Asia Times Northeast Asia correspondent and editor, said.

However, Mr Trump's own officials frowned on the idea, with US Assistant Attorney General John Demers remarking: "What we do at the justice department is law enforcement".

  • Wendy Palmer