In what may be an act of political retaliation, China has announced this week that it is holding two Canadian citizens for “endangering national security”. The detentions were initiated after Canada, at the request of the United States, arrested the CFO of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
The people detained are entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig.
Spavor is the founder of the Paektu Cultural Exchange, an organization devoted to encouraging international tourism and sports between Asian and North American countries. He is most notable in the United States for arranging the visits of Dennis Rodman to North Korea.
Kovrig is a former Canadian diplomat assigned to China who remained in the country after his time at his post. While residing in the country he has been a reporter and adviser for the International Crisis Group.
His work for the non-governmental organization has covered a range of subjects, including the North Korean nuclear crisis, China’s relationship with the U.S. and its expanding presence in Africa.CBC
The Huawei CFO, Meng Wanzhou, is currently fighting extradition to the United States. She has been released on bail, but is unable to leave Canada.
It is widely believed that the arrest of Wanzhou, even if it is independent of the current trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, is being used as leverage in the trade talks.
China is pressing for the charges against Wanzhou to be dropped. According to Canada’s Global News, the editor of a Chinese state-friendly newspaper warned this week of continued retaliation.
“Meng Wanzhou was released on bail, but Canada must do more to restore her freedom and put an end to this incident,” Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, said.
“I personally believe that if Canada extradites Meng to the U.S., China’s revenge will be far worse than detaining a Canadian,” Hu said
Some in Canada are upset at Canadians being caught in the middle of the China/US conflict, as Trump’s actions have Canadians no longer viewing the U.S. as a firm ally.