It has been revealed that 13 Canadians have been detained in China following the controversial arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on December 1st in Vancouver. Diplomatic relations between Canada and China have continued to deteriorate in the lapsed period following the very-public arrest and attempted extradition to the United States of the Huawei executive who stands accused of fraud.
Of the 13 Canadians arrested, eight have been subsequently released, but the general consensus is that the arrests are in retaliation to the detainment of Wanzhou in Vancouver, who has since been released on bail.
Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Guillaume Berube confirmed the number of detentions to AFP, but stressed that the official figures provided excluded Hong Kong.
A number of Canadians detained in Beijing were high-profile figures which included former diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor, both of whom were deemed a threat to national security by Chinese authorities.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang rejected it had acted inappropriately and stressed that the country was committed to safeguarding the security and legitimate rights and interests of foreign citizens.
Despite the claims made by those in power in China, many observers are convinced that the detentions of Kovrig, who works for the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, who is frequently consulted on matters linked to North Korea, were retaliatory actions following the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who faces extradition to the United States.
Backed by the US and several European countries, Canada's foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has repeated called for the immediate release of Kovrig and Spavor, whose arrests Ottawa has termed arbitrary.