OTTAWA/BEIJING (Reuters) – the Canadian diplomats gained consular access on Sunday is the second of two men held by China over the past week, the canadian ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that gave few specifics, such as China, said that ensuring their rights were protected.
FILE PHOTO: a Canadian businessman Michael Spavor, in addition to the former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman (not shown) after a trip to North Korea, at the Beijing capital International Airport, Beijing, China January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
John McCallum, the canadian ambassador to Beijing, with Michael Spavor, the Canadian ministry said. Spavor, and Michael Kovrig were both arrested after Canada arrested a senior Chinese executive at an AMERICAN request for extradition.
The canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau, who said on Friday the arrests were unacceptable, told CTV his government was taking the situation very seriously.
“We are working with the Chinese government to determine what exactly the conditions they were being held under? Why are they locked up?”, he said in an interview broadcast on Sunday. McCallum met Kovrig for the first time on Friday.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that China should be the two men. China says that they are both suspected of engaging in activities that endangered national security, but has no details.
Speaking in Beijing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that China and Canada had “smooth” consular communication about the affairs of the two Canadians, and confirmed China had regular consular access for both of them.
“At the same time, the legal rights of these two Canadians have been guaranteed,” Hua told a daily news briefing, without elaborating on where they are being held, what are the exact costs and under what conditions.
Spavor, a businessman, and Kovrig, a former diplomat and now works for a think-tank, were arrested after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on 1 Dec.
U.S. prosecutors accuse Mix misleading multinational banks over Iran-linked transactions, allowing the banks against the risk of violating the U.S. sanctions. Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei founder, she says that she is innocent.
China has demanded Canada free Mix, and threatened unspecified consequences if this is not the case.
Hua said it did not matter what “grandiose pretenses,” Canada and the United States came with their case against Mix “showed contempt for the rule of law” and people all over the world ridiculing it for them.
Many Canadians have been writing to the Chinese embassy or the writing of open criticism in the Canadian media-to express their opposition to the government’s “irrational, illegal methods”, she added.
“The Chinese side strongly calls on Canada to immediately correct his mistakes, and let the detained Chinese citizens.”
A Canadian judge last week granted Mix the bail.
If a Canadian court rules the case against Mix strong enough, and Canada’s minister of justice must then decide whether to extradite her to the United States.
If that is the case, Mix would face the U.S. charges of conspiracy to defraud several financial institutions, with a maximum sentence of 30 years for each charge.
On Monday, influential Chinese state-backed newspaper Global Times said in an article that an escalation in the dispute with Canada could be coming.
“In the battle with Canada, China must prepare for the possibility of conflict escalation,” he said.
“Beijing should the contest seriously and maximize the support of the international public opinion, leaving the Western media does not smear, to slander his counter-attacks as ‘the degradation of China’s opening-up’.”
Trudeau told CTV that Canada would continue to try to build trade ties with China.
“We have to do that in a way that is true to our values and stands up for Canadians’ interests, and getting the right balance is complex. (It) was complicated by the recent trends,” he said.
Reporting by David Ljunggren and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Peter Cooney and Michael Perry