Canada says 13 citizens detained in China since Huawei CFO arrest

Canada says 13 citizens detained in China since Huawei CFO arrest

Kerry Wise
January 7, 2019

China maintains its "level 2" travel advisory category it was assigned when the State Department revised its travel warning system a year ago despite the updated warning. China is Canada's third-biggest trading partner, though dwarfed by the US, which trades eight times that amount, and comprises 50% of all Canadian imports and exports.

The update comes in the midst of growing tensions between the two countries that include the chief financial officer of Chinese phone maker, Huawei, being detained in Vancouver on request of USA prosecutors (she is now facing extradition to the US for fraud charges) and the barring of three USA citizens from leaving China in November because of "economic crimes".

China on Friday rebutted the State Department's description of the dangers associated with traveling to the country, according to ABC News.

Kovrig and Spavor were detained shortly after Canadian police arrested Meng, Huawei's chief financial officer, on December 1 in Vancouver at the request of the United States.

"There is no doubt that the two Canadian citizens have violated China's laws and regulations", Zhang Jun, head of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said Thursday during a briefing in Beijing.

McIver, a school teacher, was also detained over a visa matter but then subsequently released by the Chinese authority.

The thirteen include former diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor, arrested on December 10, for activities said to threaten national security, as well as Sarah McIver, who was subsequently freed and returned to Canada.

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Meanwhile, Trump cancelled plans to spend Christmas and the New Year with his family at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Both chambers of Congress convened for just a few minutes on Thursday, before adjourning until next week.

Canada had been exploring the possibility of a trade deal with China, but MacKay said those aspirations should be shelved for the time being.

The diplomatic trip, scheduled before last month's detentions, is being taken by members of the Canada-China Legislative Association, a bipartisan group of four MPs and two Senators with a shared interest in Canada-China relations.

"U.S. citizens may be detained without access to USA consular services or information about their alleged crime".

Canadian authorities detained Meng at the request of the U.S, which accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of USA sanctions. "The previous Travel Advisory for China was issued in January 2018; the new Advisory was updated as part of the regular annual review and reaffirms China at a Level 2", the official said.

"Right now, it's hard to know how China will deal with the other two, but it definitely has the feel of hostage diplomacy", he said.

"China always welcomes foreign citizens - including USA citizens - to visit China, and protects their security and legal rights, including freedom of entry and exit", Lu told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

After three days of hearings, a British Columbia justice on Tuesday granted bail of 10 million Canadian dollars ($7.5 million), but required Meng to wear an ankle bracelet, surrender her passports, stay in the Vancouver area and confine herself to one of her two homes in the city from 11 6 a.m.