Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has called on the West to counter China’s “aggression,” as Ottawa tries to get back two alleged spies arrested by Beijing. Canada, meanwhile, is working to extradite a Huawei executive to the US.
“China is making stronger moves than it has before to try and get its own way on the world stage,” Trudeau complained to a press conference on Tuesday after he was asked about two Canadian citizens currently imprisoned in China on espionage charges. He claimed the prisoners were being held for political reasons and warned China the whole world was watching.
While Canada has denounced China’s detention of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor as arbitrary and illegal, and the US has piled on with support for its northern neighbor, the Canadian government earlier this month granted authorization to the US to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who faces 23 counts of bank and wire fraud and theft of technology in the US. Prosecutors have admitted the US government surveilled Meng extensively under FISA, hoping to find evidence she (and by extension Huawei) were acting as an agent of the Chinese government.
“Western countries and democracies around the world are pulling together to point out that this is not something we need to continue to allow,” Trudeau declared.
Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in December, several days after Meng was detained on US orders at a Vancouver airport. China has accused Kovrig of stealing state secrets allegedly passed to him by Spavor, and the pair were formally arrested last week. A Canadian parliamentary delegation arrived in Shanghai on Monday to push for the prisoners’ release. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has said her Chinese counterpart is unwilling to discuss the matter and called the detentions “unacceptable,” at the same time insisting “we do not escalate.”
The US and China have been embroiled in a trade war for over a year, a conflict which appears to be spilling into Canada. China has blocked Canadian shipments of pork and canola worth billions of dollars in the last month.
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