U.S. official says America is deeply concerned about China’s detention of Canadians – National

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The Associated Press

WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that China has been trying to interfere with Canada’s judiciary by repeatedly asking for the release of Meng Wanzhou, but said they have support of multiple countries and will continue to defend the rule of law and the rights of Canadians. He also said they are letting national security agencies tackle 5G, saying they cannot politicize it.

The U-S ambassador to Canada says her country is deeply concerned about China’s “unlawful” detention of two Canadians.

Ambassador Kelly Craft said Saturday in a statement to The Associated Press the arrests of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor are unacceptable and urged China to end the arbitrary detentions.

It is her first public remarks on it.


China detained the two in apparent retaliation for the arrest in Canada of Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

The U-S wants Meng extradited to face charges that she misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.

Craft said the Department of Justice’s criminal case against Meng is based solely on the evidence and the law.

She added that the United States appreciates Canada’s steadfast commitment to the rule of law.

Global News

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Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou has an extra passport that wasn’t listed in court records — and it’s only available to China’s elite

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VANCOUVER—The U.S. government’s hunch that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou had passports beyond the seven it listed to oppose her release on bail appears to be true.

What it actually means is unclear, as no one would say whether she handed over the special Chinese passport over, let alone whether it could be used to leave the country.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou talks to a member of her private security detail in Vancouver on Dec. 12, 2018.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou talks to a member of her private security detail in Vancouver on Dec. 12, 2018.  (DARRYL DYCK / The Canadian Press)

The Hong Kong Companies Registry has confirmed to StarMetro that Meng has a special public affairs passport issued by the Chinese government. It was not included in a December court submission by U.S. federal attorney Richard Donoghue, who warned that it was “entirely possible” she had more than the seven passports she had previously used to travel to the U.S.

When asked if the passport was still valid, Hong Kong’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said companies are required by law to keep an index with identity information of its directors and that the information must be up to date.

“There are statutory requirements that if there is any change in the particulars mentioned, the company must, within 15 days of the change, deliver to the Registrar for registration a notice in the specified form to report such change,” the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said in an email.

It’s unclear if Meng surrendered the public affairs passport — issued only to China’s elite business and government officials — as part of her bail conditions, because documents released to StarMetro have been heavily redacted. Government and court officials on both sides of the border have either not responded to or declined multiple requests for interviews related to Meng’s travel documents.

Read more:

U.S. Department of Justice says it will proceed with request to extradite Meng Wanzhou

China tells U.S. to back off Meng extradition demand and warns of ‘further response’

Former ambassadors and academics urge China’s president to release Canadian men

The Canadian Department of Justice said any passports held by Meng must be handed over to the RCMP, but declined to comment on whether this particular passport was among those surrendered. The RCMP also declined to comment, citing the case as an ongoing investigation.

“The bail order issued by the BC Supreme Court specifies that Ms. Meng must surrender any and all passports and travel documents to the RCMP. For privacy reasons, we cannot specify the numbers of the passports that were surrendered,” said Ian McLeod, a spokesman with the Canadian Department of Justice.

The public affairs passport has the letter P before its numbers — setting it apart from all passport numbers that have been linked to Meng and made public.

As part of her bail conditions, Meng Wanzhou is living in this Vancouver house and must be monitred 24/7 by an ankle bracelet and a private security detail.
As part of her bail conditions, Meng Wanzhou is living in this Vancouver house and must be monitred 24/7 by an ankle bracelet and a private security detail.  (Jesse Winter/StarMetro Vancouver)

Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said holding one of these passports is a sign of prestige in the country.

Among other things, “it means you can use special lanes at the airport,” Saint-Jacques said.

“When we received requests of Chinese delegations coming to Canada, I would ask how come they have such a passport and not a regular passport? I think it’s part of these shenanigans and the way the China government works and the connections one has,” he added.

Meng’s numerous passports played a key role in the lengthy bail hearing that followed her Dec. 1 arrest at the Vancouver airport.

Both the Attorney General of Canada and the U.S. government, in opposing her release while awaiting extradition, cited the risk she could use her wealth, resources and multiple passports to flee the country. Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley had described her flight risk as “unmanageable.”

Judge William Ehrcke granted Meng’s bail release with multiple conditions, including that she surrender all of her passports.

He concluded, after verbal arguments in the courtroom, that only two of Meng’s passports were valid for travel at that time.

With files from Joanna Chiu

Michael Mui is a Vancouver-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @mui24hours

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Former ambassadors and academics urge China’s president to release Canadian men

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OTTAWA—More than 100 former ambassadors and prominent academics specializing in China and Asian affairs are appealing directly to Chinese President Xi Jinping for the release of two Canadian men who the Trudeau government says are being “arbitrarily” held by Chinese state security forces.

In an open letter published Monday, a copy of which was sent to the Star, 26 former ambassadors to China and 115 scholars from around the world say they are “deeply concerned” about the detentions and say it sends a chilling message to all who want to build bridges with China.

The letter comes as Beijing moved to soften its tone a week after its ambassador to Canada warned the Trudeau government it would face “repercussions” if it banned Huawei, the Chinese corporate giant that wants to play a key role in developing Canada’s 5G networks, the next generation of high-speed wireless networks.

Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters Monday that Ambassador Lu Shaye “did not mean that China intends to interfere in the decision-making of the Canadian government.”

She said Huawei “is a leading supplier in the 5G technology, so losses are inevitable if Huawei is not chosen as a co-operation partner,” later adding “We have been reasoning with the Canadian side, not threatening it.”

Nevertheless, the Chinese spokeswoman talked tough and accused Canada of “irresponsible” remarks and “microphone diplomacy” in its efforts to rally international allies to protest the men’s detention.

She disputed Canada’s claims that the leaders of Germany and Singapore have publicly supported Canada’s position, saying neither made public comments.

Canada’s allies have made varied statements of support.

But the letter published Monday by former diplomats, including five past Canadian envoys, and many others shows more than 140 Western experts on China speaking with one voice. Hua dismissed it Monday, according to a transcript posted on the foreign ministry website.

“I wonder who these western scholars and officials are and how much do they know about the real situation regarding the cases of the two Canadian citizens,” she said, adding foreign citizens are welcome in China. “As long as they abide by Chinese laws and regulations, there is nothing to worry about.”

Chinese state security officials arrested the two separately after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, wanted by the U.S. for allegedly lying to skirt American sanctions on Iran.

The Chinese government is rebuffing Canada’s calls for the men’s release. Beijing says the Canadians are being held on suspicion of “activities endangering China’s national security” but they have not been charged.

“Many of us know Michael Kovrig through his work as a diplomat in Beijing and as the senior expert for northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group, an organization whose mission is to ‘build a more peaceful world’,” the letter reads.

“In both roles, Kovrig regularly and openly met with Chinese officials, researchers, and scholars to better understand China’s positions on a range of important international issues.”

“Michael Spavor has devoted his time to the task of building relationships between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and China, Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere.”

Spavor had co-ordinated sporting and cultural trips into North Korea through his China-based business and made headlines when he worked as a fixer for former NBA superstar Dennis Rodham’s trip to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Read more:

China’s ambassador accuses Canada of ‘backstabbing’ in arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou

Chinese police prevent Canadian woman from returning home on connecting flight through Beijing

Trudeau enlists Trump to seek release of Canadians detained by China

The one-page appeal, in English and Chinese, says that kind of on-the-ground engagement is the foundation of serious research and diplomacy.

It says their detentions “send a message that this kind of constructive work is unwelcome and even risky in China.”

It cautions that people who share “Kovrig and Spavor’s enthusiasm for building genuine, productive, and lasting relationships must now be more cautious about traveling and working in China and engaging our Chinese counterparts.” That leads to less dialogue and greater distrust “and undermine(s) efforts to manage disagreements and identify common ground.”

“Both China and the rest of the world will be worse off as a result,” the signatories wrote.

Among the group are six former ambassadors to China from Canada — Fred Bild, Joseph Caron, David Mulroney, Earl Drake, Guy Saint-Jacques and Rob Wright. It is also signed by former envoys from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Sweden, and Mexico, two former U.S. deputy assistant secretaries of state, and former foreign ministers from the U.K. and Australia.

The letter “respectfully” asks the Chinese president for the “immediate” release of the two Canadian citizens “so that they may be reunited with their families.”

One Canadian signatory, Joseph Caron, ambassador to China from 2001 to 2005, said he signed the letter “because it was the moral thing to do,” but declined further comment.

David Mulroney, who was Ottawa’s envoy from 2009-2012, said the letter is signed by a list of people “who have spent decades learning about China and trying to understand and interpret it. China has an interest in being better understood.”

He said it should remind people that “this is more than a Canada-China dispute.”

“Many people, from many places, are worried about the extent to which China is closing itself off, and punishing those who have struggled to understand it and explain it to others.

“China typically succeeds by isolating countries and punishing them, while others look on in silence. Sweden has just experienced this, and now we are, too. By broadening the discussion about what’s happening, we make it harder for China to bully smaller states.”

Last week, Beijing’s ambassador in Ottawa Lu Shaye signalled the Chinese government has no intention of intervening in what is now an investigation led by state security forces. He said that as the investigation “deepens and advances” the charges would be made “clear” and “specific.”

Lu insisted China is taking “compulsory measures” under law against the men. He contrasted that with Canada’s detention of Meng which he called “groundless” because she has broken no Canadian law. Meng is out on bail, restricted to remaining in Vancouver where she lives at one of her two mansions pending her extradition hearing. China wants her set free immediately.

On Sunday, newly appointed federal Justice Minister David Lametti said officials in his department, not him, will decide the next step, which is whether to issue the “authority to proceed” to put the U.S. case against Meng before a Canadian judge.

Under a bilateral treaty, the U.S. has until Jan. 30 to produce its documents or “record” of the case to Canada’s justice department’s international assistance group, which then has 30 days to review the package.

If all is in order, the justice department officials would grant the authority to proceed and its lawyers would argue on behalf of the U.S. before a Canadian judge that the U.S. has produced documents that meet the legal threshold to have Meng extradited to face fraud charges. A Canadian court judge will decide if indeed the U.S. has produced enough evidence that would have been sufficient to send Meng to trial if the conduct had occurred here, but doesn’t pronounce on guilt or innocence. Then it’s up to the justice minister to decide whether to surrender Meng to be extradited, taking account of legal and political factors.

“I will only intervene after a court decision to extradite with respect to the execution of that decision,” said Lametti.

“So in terms of the process I will stay away from the process in order to not be tainted if I do have to make a decision one way or the other,” Lametti told reporters Sunday.

The ex-diplomats’ and academics’ letter comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues his efforts to speak to other national leaders about Canada’s concerns in the affair.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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As Apple feels the pinch of China’s stumbling economy, experts fear Canada is next

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While Apple’s stunning announcement this week shook financial markets, its cause could shake the Canadian economy.

As one of the world’s biggest tech companies announced Wednesday it was lowering its profit estimates, Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested a slowing Chinese economy — resulting in lower iPhone sales — was largely to blame.

Trader Mark Muller works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. Stocks went into a steep slide Thursday after Apple sent a shudder through Wall Street with word that iPhone sales in China are falling.
Trader Mark Muller works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. Stocks went into a steep slide Thursday after Apple sent a shudder through Wall Street with word that iPhone sales in China are falling.  (Richard Drew / The Associated Press)

Stock markets around the world dropped Thursday on the news, with the TSX S&P Composite Index falling 134 points to close at 14,212. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped by roughly 3 per cent, wiping out billions of dollars of shareholder value. (The Dow fell 660 points to close at 22,686, and the Nasdaq fell 202 points to close at 6,463. Apple shares plunged almost 10 per cent, their worst drop since 2013, falling $15.73 (U.S.) to close at $142.19.

But the damage could extend far beyond falling share prices if Cook’s assertion is correct — that the Chinese economy is stumbling. Demand for Canadian commodities, including oil, lumber and soybeans, will be most directly hit, economists and trade experts agree. But there could be a much larger indirect effect, given China’s outsized impact on the global economy: China’s $12 trillion economy doesn’t need to slow down much to wreak havoc elsewhere.

“Even a small percentage in China is still a big number,” said Andreas Schott, assistant professor at the Ivey Business School at Western University. “We will feel pain. There’s no doubt about it.”

While there have been signs for almost a year that the Chinese economy is slowing down, it’s been exacerbated by a trade war between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, Schott argued. U.S. President Donald Trump’s ongoing public battle over trade with China is already hitting Canadian companies.

“The Trump administration is killing us. We are collateral damage,” said Schott. “The problem now compared to nine months ago when we first started hearing about a slowdown is that the tension has really risen.”

It’s not just direct Canadian exports to China that are hurting, said BMO Capital Markets senior economist Art Woo. Woo estimated roughly 4 per cent of Canadian exports end up in China.

“A slowdown in China could hurt U.S. growth, and that’s where the vast majority of our exports go. It would have a knock-on effect,” said Woo, adding roughly 75 per cent of Canada’s exports go to the U.S.

While the Chinese economy has already slowed down from the eye-popping double-digit growth rates seen a decade ago, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, Woo explained.

“When you’re completely changing your economy, and people are moving into the cities, and the economy is modernizing, you’re going to see a lot of productivity growth. That’s when you get an economy growing at 10, 11, 12 per cent a year. So a slowdown is to be expected. But the question is, does it go further than that?” said Woo, whose forecast calls for the Chinese economy to grow by 6.2 per cent in 2019, down from the 6.9 per cent growth seen in 2017, and what was likely a 6.5 per cent growth rate in 2018.

In some sectors, the pinch from China is already starting to be felt.

Since November, the price for softwood pulp — used to make products such as toilet paper, tissues and paper towels — has already plunged from $900 per ton, to $710, largely because of lower Chinese demand, according to industry watcher Kevin Mason.

“The price has fallen more quickly and deeper than anyone expected,” said Mason, managing director of B.C.-based Era Forest Products Research. That drop has come as Chinese companies run through existing supplies of pulp before, presumably, jumping back into the market, Mason said.

If those prices fall much more, though, Canadian jobs could be at risk.

“If it starts to hit the mid-500s, we could see companies start to take some production offline, to help try and drive the price back up,” said Mason, who estimated Canada ships almost $2.5 billion worth of pulp to China each year.

“China consumes almost a third of the world’s pulp, and Canada’s its biggest supplier.”

While a slowing economy hurts Chinese spending, there’s another factor when consumers there choose what to buy, Schott said: National pride. And with that, the trade war prompted by Trump isn’t helping obviously American products such as iPhones.

“If they can buy a phone that’s just as good, but is half the price and doesn’t support Voldemort, they will … The anger is very real.”

Josh Rubin is a Toronto-based business reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @starbeer

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China’s detention of Canadians part of bid to challenge Western democratic norms, experts say

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VANCOUVER—A common narrative has emerged this month: Canada being caught between two global superpowers vying for dominance.

The notion has been used to frame the detentions of two Canadians in China, an apparent response to Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the request of authorities in the United States.

Students at China’s Huaibei Normal University wave flags as they watch live coverage of a speech in Beijing by China’s President Xi Jinping in December to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening policy. But experts say Xi is overseeing a retrenchment of authoritarian foreign policy in a bid to challenge the global dominance of Western liberal democratic order.
Students at China’s Huaibei Normal University wave flags as they watch live coverage of a speech in Beijing by China’s President Xi Jinping in December to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening policy. But experts say Xi is overseeing a retrenchment of authoritarian foreign policy in a bid to challenge the global dominance of Western liberal democratic order.  (STR / AFP/Getty Images)

But experts say this explanation obscures a larger truth: that China’s detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are part of an ongoing bid to assert its authoritarian “rule by law” system against the democratic rule-of-law order of the Western world.

Kovrig, an ex-diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, were arrested in China a little more than a week after Meng, a top executive of Chinese telecommunications and tech giant Huawei, was taken into Canadian custody.

Meng was released on $10-million bail on Dec. 11 to one of her multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver to await an extradition hearing.

Read more:

The ‘forgotten’ Canadians detained in China

Huawei reps lobbied Ottawa’s security committee in bid to tell company’s ‘story’

PowerPoint that snared Meng Wanzhou claims Huawei had business ties with four Iranian companies

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has issued a formal call for the release of the pair of detainees, while the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany and most recently Australia have all issued statements of concern over the apparent political motivations of the pair’s arrests.

The issue runs far deeper than an effort by one country to use detention of foreign nationals to push for the release of its own citizens, said Charles Burton, associate professor of political science at Brock University.

Repeated assertions from Chinese state officials that Meng’s treatment in Canada is motivated purely by political allegiance to the United States has another function, said Burton. Suggesting Meng’s arrest is equivalent to — or worse than — China’s handling of Spavor and Kovrig is the latest chapter in a Chinese government effort to undermine long-standing democratic norms and legitimize its own brand of state-directed justice, he argued.

“The Chinese government denies the reality of judicial independence in Western liberal democracies by insisting that (the current conflict over Kovrig and Spavor) is a political matter and can be resolved by the Canadian prime minister if enough pressure is exerted,” Burton said in a phone interview.

The Chinese regime, he said, wishes to establish a “moral equivalence” between the Chinese and Canadian justice systems.

“And frankly that’s ridiculous, because our system is based on the rule of law and their system is based on rule-by-law, which is that the Chinese Communist Party enforces its political decisions through the use of administrative law.”

Chinese authorities have said Kovrig and Spavor are not under arrest but rather are being held for interrogation in an undisclosed location, effectively allowing them to circumvent international protocols around due process, said Burton.

These “undisclosed locations,” he added, are sometimes called “black jails” — secret, extrajudicial detention centres that the Chinese government has denied exist but Human Rights Watch has documented for nearly a decade.

Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China. Both Kovrig and Spavor disappeared shortly after Canada detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China. Both Kovrig and Spavor disappeared shortly after Canada detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.  (Julie DAVID DE LOSSY/CRISIGROUP/AFP, The Associated Press)

Recently, reports emerged that Kovrig had been denied access to a lawyer and was being kept in a continuously lit cell — a common tactic, according to Burton, used by the Chinese Ministry of State Security along with sensory deprivation and the confinement of prisoners to painful and restrictive “tiger chairs” when those detained are alleged to have threatened Chinese state security through espionage or sabotage.

Nor has any charge been laid against Kovrig or Spavor, Burton added, meaning no legal defence can be mounted on either man’s behalf.

Meng, on the other hand, was allowed to mount a strong defence against serious charges and was granted bail to her family’s home in Vancouver pending an extradition hearing.

“So the idea that Ms. Meng is worse off than the two Canadians who’ve been taken in just is not convincing to anyone who looks into it with any degree of objectivity,” he said, calling claims of equivalency between the Chinese and Canadian justice systems “patently absurd.”

This rhetoric is also a departure from nearly two decades of Beijing gesturing toward an adoption of international norms, Burton added.

In 1998, for instance, China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with the idea the country would eventually move to ratification — a development that would have significant implications for the possibility of strengthening Western-style democracy in China.

“As the years went by … the Chinese Communist Party recognized that if they moved to implement the principles of the (covenant) that could lead to the end of communist rule in China, similar to what happened in Taiwan with their authoritarian government that’s now a democracy,” Burton said.

More recently, actions by the Chinese politburo have explicitly enhanced state participation in the judiciary, meaning the Chinese legal system will now become an even more tightly controlled organ of state — a status which stands in stark contrast to the independence of justice systems in Western democracies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 40th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up at The Great Hall Of The People on December 18, 2018 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 40th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up at The Great Hall Of The People on December 18, 2018 in Beijing, China.  (Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images)

The projection of Chinese military power in the South China Sea in recent years is another example of the country’s flouting of international rule of law. The Chinese “reclamation” of the disputed region — which included destructive build-outs of man-made islands on reefs — was rejected by an international tribunal that found the country’s actions had violated the maritime rights of the Philippines.

The ruling — seen internationally as a landmark declaration on one of the world’s most contested areas — was swiftly rejected by China, which continues to maintain a constant presence in the region.

Beijing’s only occasional adherence to established liberal democratic norms can be traced back to what can be seen as its national myth, according to Howard W. French, journalism professor at Columbia University and author of Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power.

Like every nation state, China maintains a national myth to legitimize and underpin the priorities and perspectives of the state, French said. And like every national myth, China’s contains both some truth and some fiction that rings true.

The important fiction in China’s national myth, French said, is the story of China’s “century of humiliation” and victimhood at the hands of imperial Western powers, which, he added, does in some ways reflect the historical victimization of China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“This business about having been a victim, of having suffered at the hands of imperial powers, is coupled with another idea, which is that the rules of the world were created by Western nations at a time when China was excluded from the system and China had no say in anything,” French said.

When international rules work for China’s longer or short-term goals, they are framed by China as legitimate, he argued. But when those rules work against governmental ends, mythology can be invoked “to derive a reason not to pay attention to (the rules) or even to undermine the logic” of that order, giving China the ability to play both insider or outsider depending on the needs of the moment, he added.

But striking this contradictory balance can be a challenge, French noted.

“The Chinese party and state have to signal to their people that they’re strong … and signalling to their people that they’re strong while also opportunistically drawing upon notions of victimhood is a tricky game,” he said.

“So this is a public-relations game that China is playing … both victim to illegitimate rules but also feeling a need to say, ‘We’re tough and we’re big now and we’re not going to let ourselves be pushed around by these pernicious westerners.’”

Two protesters hold a sign in favor of the release of Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou outside her bail hearing at British Columbia Superior Courts on December 10, 2018.
Two protesters hold a sign in favor of the release of Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou outside her bail hearing at British Columbia Superior Courts on December 10, 2018.  (JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

And that would make a country like Canada a perfect target for the exercise of Chinese governmental authority as it seeks to both flex its substantial economic and political muscle and declare its historical victimhood to long-standing imperial powers, in this case the United States.

“This could be any kind of small to medium-sized country that runs afoul of China right now that’s going to find itself in a situation like (Canada), whether or not the United States is involved,” he said.

And according to Burton, the desired outcome appears to be a push for broader, international legitimization of Chinese rule-by-law.

“I think (China’s political detention of Canadians) is reflective of their overall trend to assert that their system is suited to Chinese history and culture and has the same moral authority as the democratic system,” he said.

Yet at the heart of this entire conflict is the lives of human beings, which, according to Pamela Kilvadi, a longtime friend of Kovrig, are being used as “pawns” by countries looking to assert their dominance.

Kilvadi, director of the Boston, Mass.-based global policy research firm International Policy Fellowships Network, met Kovrig in Budapest in the 1990s during his days as journalist.

“It seems fairly clear that he’s being used as a political pawn in an international game, and he’s probably also being used an example for those who may be working in civil society organizations or journalists working in international settings that they should be wary of speaking out and wary of working abroad.”

But Kilvadi also said Kovrig is a loyal friend with an insatiable curiosity about the world around him. He’d stayed past the end of his diplomatic contract in China because he loved the country and wished to contribute to peace in the region, she said.

“It’s a tragedy when people who are really trying to forge peace are targeted in these kinds of political games,” she said.

Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering community issues and Canada’s drug policies. Follow him on Twitter: @perringrauer

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Justin Trudeau links China’s detention of two Canadians to U.S. extradition request for Huawei executive

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OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admits he is worried about the “unintended consequences” of an escalating trade fight between China and the United States, but will give no ground to demands he get involved in an extradition case.

With two Canadians now detained in China after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the U.S., Trudeau says he will “stand up for” the rule of law and the independence of Canada’s judiciary, which is now handling the American extradition request.

And the prime minister took a more direct shot at both China and the U.S. President Donald Trump, who has suggested Meng’s case could be used as a bargaining chip in his larger security and trade dispute with China.

“Other countries can politicize their judicial system or make arbitrary actions,” Trudeau told Citytv in Toronto. “We are going to demonstrate that the best way not just to protect our citizens but to support the jobs the future the stability that Canadians expect is by standing up for our values in a clear unequivocal way that protects our interests.”

While China has not publicly drawn a direct link between Meng’s arrest and the detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, Trudeau did appear to tie the cases together when asked about strained relations.

Justin Trudeau links China’s detention of 2 Canadians to U.S. extradition request for Huawei executive

On Friday, five days after he was detained, China had finally granted consular access to Kovrig, a former diplomat on leave to work with a Hong Kong-based non-governmental organization.

John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Kovrig in Beijing, Global Affairs Canada said in a news release.

“Canadian consular officials continue to provide consular services to him and his family and will continue to seek further access to Mr. Kovrig. Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed.”

The government is still pressing for consular access to Michael Spavor, the China-based entrepreneur who was arrested on Dec. 10.

The purpose of consular access is to determine a Canadian citizen’s well-being, clarify the reasons for detention with the Chinese, see if he requires medical attention and be able to act as a communications link for the family.

Both men were arrested after China threatened “grave consequences” if Canada didn’t release Meng, but a day before Meng was allowed to leave prison to await her extradition hearing in Vancouver, on strict bail conditions issued by a judge.

Her arrest has infuriated the Chinese government.

And for all Trudeau’s insistence that he will continue to engage with China, it is no longer business as usual.

Canada and China on Friday agreed to cancel or postpone a trip Tourism Minister Melanie Joly was to take to China next week, one day after she said that she still planned to travel there to further Canada-China tourism.

Canada Goose, the luxury outdoor wear brand, has delayed an opening of its new store in Beijing, citing construction reasons, even as its stock took a hit.

And the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a veiled threat against Ottawa, warning it against pursuing a foreign investment protection agreement with Taiwan, which China considers part of the People’s Republic of China, not an independent state.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Chang said Friday in Beijing when it comes to China’s position on “the Taiwan issue, I believe that all the countries in the world are very clear about that.

“If … the Canadian side did try to play the ‘Taiwan card,’ then it has miscalculated the situation so much that it will only end up hurting itself.”

Trudeau, who appeared on Citytv’s Breakfast Television show, was asked if he was worried about Canada’s relations with China and with the U.S.

“This is one of the situations you get in when the two largest economies in the world, China and the United States, start picking a fight with each other. The escalating trade war between them is going to have all sorts of unintended consequences on Canada, and potentially on the entire global economy. So we’re very worried about that,” he said.

“We are doing what Canada will always do, standing up for the rules, obeying our laws, standing up for Canadian principles, standing up for Canadian values and you know not, not reacting the way some other countries are reacting.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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