In a scathing attack against China over the treatment of two Canadian nationals, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that China’s actions threaten both ‘respect for the rule of law’ and Beijing’s relationships with Western nations.
“China needs to understand that it is not just about two Canadians. It is about the respect for the rule of law and relationships with a broad range of Western countries that is at play with the arbitrary detention and the coercive diplomacy they have engaged in,” said Trudeau in a press briefing.
Canadian nationals – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – have been in Chinese detention for over 800 days on espionage charges. Ottawa says that these are retaliatory measures for Canada’s detention of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Vancouver in 2018 at the request of the United States.
Trudeau has assured the family members of Kovrig and Spavor of the country’s support after Spavor was hauled before a Chinese court to face allegations of espionage.
“Let me be very clear. Their arbitrary detention is completely unacceptable, as is the lack of transparency around these court proceedings,” he said.
According to Trudeau, Spavor’s court hearing took place but did not end in a verdict, while Kovrig’s hearing is scheduled for Monday.
He also slammed China for holding Spavor’s hearing in “secret,” saying that refusing to let representatives from Canada and other allies into the courtroom made it impossible to determine what was happening.
Sino-Canadian relations worsened after the arrest of Meng and two Canadian nationals in China and have been further exacerbated by Ottawa’s condemnation of Beijing’s national security law implemented in Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.
“Kovrig was accused of having used an ordinary passport and business visa to enter China to steal sensitive information and intelligence through contacts in China since 2017, while Spavor was accused of being a key source of intelligence for Kovrig,” the Chinese government mouthpiece reported.