China's treatment of Canadian nationals threatens respect for rule of law, relations with West: Trudeau

ANI
·2-min read
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Ottawa [Canada], March 20 (ANI): Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday slammed China's treatment of two of its nationals there, saying it threatens 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, reported CBC News.

Trudeau also assured the family members of Michael Kovrig and Michael 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 the Canadian PM, Spavor's court hearing took place earlier today but did not end in a verdict, while Kovrig's hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Trudeau also extended his thanks to a number of allied countries, including the US who showed up outside Spavor's hearing to demonstrate 'global solidarity' in this case, reported CBC News.

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.

Earlier today, the Chinese Embassy in a statement said: "I would like to stress once again that China is a country with a rule of law. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested and prosecuted in accordance with law for suspected crimes undermining China's national security."

Canadian nationals - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - have been in Chinese detention for over 800 days on espionage charges.

Ottawa, however, maintains 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.

Sino-Canadian relations soured 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.

Beijing was incensed over Meng's arrest and demanded her immediate release, but Canada did not comply. Ten days later, Kovrig and Spavor were arrested. The pair have languished in jail for 18 months without official charges. (ANI)