Chinese foreign ministry tells U.S., EU to take Canada to task for Meng arrest - InfoNews

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Chinese foreign ministry tells U.S., EU to take Canada to task for Meng arrest

Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China, are shown in these 2018 images taken from video. People around the world are "extremely disturbed" by China's detention of two Canadians, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Mali this weekend as he called for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to be released. Canada is communicating with China about how important it is to release the detainees, Trudeau said Saturday in reference to the two men taken into custody on security grounds earlier this month.
December 24, 2018 - 1:00 PM

OTTAWA - Western allies' support for Canada in its argument with China over the arrests of two Canadians on national-security grounds have made China "very dissatisfied," its foreign ministry said Monday.

Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the detention of Huawei Technologies' chief financial officer is a much bigger international offence than China's own arrests of two Canadians, including a former diplomat.

After Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on an American extradition warrant, Chinese authorities picked up researcher and analyst Michael Kovrig, who is on leave from Canada's foreign service to work for the anti-war International Crisis Group, and businessman Michael Spavor, who arranges exchanges with North Korea.

In the last few days, officials from the United States and Europe have joined Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's complaints about the arrests. Saturday, for the first time, Freeland directly demanded that China release the two.

U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino called for their freedom on Friday. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was deeply concerned about a political motive for their arrests. A statement from the European Union said the national-security claim "raises concerns about legitimate research and business practices in China."

Germany and France have issued similar statements.

Hua suggested Canada's allies were being hypocrites and should turn their attention to Meng's detention.

"Where were their voices when the senior manager of the Chinese company was illegally detained by the Canadian side at the behest of the U.S. side?" Hua asked in a regular briefing at the Chinese foreign ministry, whose transcript is posted in English to the ministry website.

"It is quite obvious that the human rights they are talking about have different standards when it comes to citizens of different countries."

Sources familiar with Kovrig's situation say he is been held without access to a lawyer, in a cell with the lights on around the clock, and questioned three times a day. Hua said Kovrig and Spavor's rights are being respected in Chinese custody and Canadian diplomats have been allowed to see them, as Global Affairs Canada has confirmed.

Hua says Canada should "correct its mistakes" and free Meng.

Meng is currently out of custody on $10 million bail, staying at a house in Vancouver and not allowed to leave the country.

The U.S. wants her to face fraud charges over allegations she lied to American banks in an effort to get around Iran sanctions; law-enforcement officials asked Canada to detain her when she passed through Vancouver on her way to Mexico.

However it ends up, the extradition process could take years.

"Canada cannot stop talking about its so-called legal obligations under its bilateral extradition treaty with the U.S.," Hua said. "Does that mean it can turn a blind eye to and trample on the basis norms (sic) of international law and international relations?"

Hua also took a question about a third Canadian, Albertan Sarah McIver, who has reportedly been detained in China over a visa problem. Canada has said it doesn't believe her arrest is related to the other two.

Asked when McIver will be deported, Hua said: "The competent Chinese authority will deal with it in accordance with law." Hua said last week that McIver had been sentenced to an administrative punishment, without specifying what that meant.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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