A Canadian newspaper is reporting that a third Canadian has been detained in China. Previously, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were detained. The detentions came after Canadian police arrested Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou.
A third Canadian citizen has been detained in China, a Canadian newspaper reported on Wednesday, amid a diplomatic spat between Beijing and Ottawa over the arrest of a Chinese telecoms executive.
Canada’s foreign ministry said it was “aware of a Canadian citizen” having been detained, according to the National Post, which cited a ministry spokesperson.
The spokesperson did not provide further details and did not suggest that the detention was linked to the arrest on December 1 of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, the report said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing that she had “not heard” about the reported detention.
The recent detention of two Canadians has raised questions whether Beijing is holding them in retaliation for Meng’s arrest, though no link has officially been made between the cases.
Meng was released on bail last week in Vancouver pending a US extradition hearing on US fraud charges related to sanctions-breaking business dealings Huawei is alleged to have had with Iran.
National security concerns
China has accused the other detainees – former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and China-based business consultant Michael Spavor – of activities “that endanger China’s national security.”
They were both detained on December 10.
Kovrig is a Hong Kong-based senior adviser at the International Crisis Group think tank, while Spavor facilitates trips to North Korea and helped former NBA star Dennis Rodman travel to the neighbouring country.
Beijing has threatened Canada with “grave consequences” if Meng is not freed and Chinese state-run media have criticised the arrest, saying it was politically motivated.
Ottawa has repeatedly said the arrest was not political but rather a judicial process in keeping with an extradition treaty Ottawa has with Washington.
But despite escalating tensions between the two countries, the Canadian embassy in China does not seem to be holding back.
On Tuesday it posted a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Charter 08, a widely circulated online petition that called for political reform in China, on Chinese social media.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died last year from liver cancer while in police custody, was arrested after co-authoring the petition, which urged protection of basic human rights and the reform of China’s one-party system.