Third Canadian Detained In China As Diplomatic Feud Escalates
- Ottawa is aware of the detention but gave no further details, Canadian media report
A third Canadian citizen has been detained by Chinese authorities, Canadian media reported on Wednesday, as the row between Beijing and Ottawa over the arrest of a Chinese tech executive escalates.
Global Affairs Canada was aware that a third Canadian citizen had been detained in China, the National Post reported, citing a spokesman for the department.
But the spokesman did not provide further details, and did not suggest the detention was linked to the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou.
The newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said the third person was not a diplomatic official, nor an entrepreneur operating in China.
In Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said in a daily press briefing she was not aware of the new case.
“I have not heard anything about the situation you have asked about,” Hua said in response to a question concerning the third Canadian citizen being detained in China.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 at the request of the United States and has been released on bail.
Beijing was infuriated by the arrest, warning that Canada would face grave consequences if Meng was not released.
China detained two Canadian citizens last week, accusing them of activities “that endanger China’s national security”. The first was Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat who is currently a senior adviser on Northeast Asia for International Crisis Group. Michael Spavor, a businessman based in the Chinese city of Dandong with connections to North Korea, was also detained.
China has not said whether Kovrig and Spavor were detained in retaliation for the arrest of Meng.
China and Canada are negotiating a free trade agreement, but critics said the series of arrests would be a hurdle.
Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London, said China’s international image would suffer if the arrests were related to Meng’s case.
“‘Hostage diplomacy’ is repulsive in the international community and any country that practises it will significantly damage its reputation, international image and credibility as an international partner,” Tsang said.
“Being the second most powerful country in the world, China will get away with this more than most countries if they were to do the same, but it will have significant negative consequences.
“With three Canadians being detained multinationals will now have to start to consider or discuss internally if their duty of care to their staff means that they need to be more careful with staff being posted to China,” he said.