China targeting Canadians since Huawei exec's arrest

Posted January 07, 2019

The prospect had seemed doable as recently as mid-November, when International Trade Minister Jim Carr was in Beijing hoping to talk trade and strike smaller sector-by-sector agreements.

The warning comes after Chinese authorities arrested two Canadian citizens in recent weeks on suspicion of threatening national security.

Meanwhile, the United States warned its citizens Thursday they could face arbitrary action by authorities when they visit China.

The rights of foreign nationals in China have received renewed focus because of public concern over the fate of three USA citizens accused of committing "economic crimes" in the country.

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Tensions between Ottawa and Beijing have been running high since the beginning of December, when tech giant Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on a USA extradition order.

China's chief prosecutor, Zhang Jun, told a separate briefing Thursday that "without a doubt" Kovrig and Spavor broke the country's laws and are being investigated.

December 12: China's foreign ministry says it has no information about Kovrig, but says the organization he worked with - the International Crisis Group - was not registered in China, making its activities in the country illegal.

McIver, a school teacher, was also detained over a visa matter but then subsequently released by the Chinese authority. The number of detainees previously was reportedly three, two of which - Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor - were arrested for unspecified reasons of national security.

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"The Chinese, I've learned through my many years involved in Canada-China relations, they build on long term-relationships".

The current diplomatic strains shouldn't come as a surprise, as the differences between Canada and China's governing systems were bound to present challenges, Day said.

The new State Department warning also follows the arrest of several Chinese nationals in the USA on charges of espionage. China has demanded Canada free Meng, who is fighting extradition to the United States.

The united message, being delivered publicly and privately to China, is that the continued detentions are harmful to China because they will discourage businesspeople, academics and others from travelling to the country, said Malley. "Chinese citizens and US citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment".

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On Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang rejected the claims, saying China always welcomed foreign citizens and protected their lawful rights.