A Canadian citizen is set to be tried on drug charges in the Chinese port city of Dalian, Chinese state media reported amid already-heightened tensions between Beijing and Ottawa.
Global Times, a tabloid operated by the Communist Party of China, identified the suspect as Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.
Schellenberg was scheduled for an appeal hearing for Saturday, Dec. 29 after he was earlier found to have smuggled “an enormous amount of drugs” into China, according to Dalian.runsky.com, a news portal operated by Dalian authorities.
The Dalian government news portal stated sarcastically that Schellenberg’s audacity was to be admired given that he “actually dared to smuggle drugs into China.” It pointed out that Chinese criminal law offers “no sympathy” for drug crimes.
Global News reached out to the Canadian government for comment, but a response was not forthcoming.
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China has some of the harshest drug laws in the world.
People found guilty of smuggling large quantities of drugs face sentences ranging from 15 years’ imprisonment to life imprisonment and even the death penalty, the Global Times reported.
In 2009, China executed British citizen Akmal Shaikh after he was caught smuggling heroin. Shaikh’s death prompted outrage in the U.K. over the apparent lack of any mental health assessment.
The following year, Chinese authorities executed Japanese national Mitsunobu Akano for smuggling drugs.
Schellenberg’s reported detention comes as Canada and China spar over the fate of Canadian nationals Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained in China on suspicion of endangering national security.
Their detention came shortly after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver at the behest of U.S. authorities who are seeking her extradition.
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China has demanded that Canada release Meng immediately, but neither country has drawn a direct connection between her arrest and the detention of Canadians in China.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.