Toronto: Ottawa should respect China’s judicial system, the East Asian nation’s envoy to Canada said, responding to claims that Beijing is engaging in coercive diplomacy through its ongoing detention of two Canadian nationals.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, charged with espionage in China, have been in detention for over 800 days. Ottawa maintains that the “arbitrary” detentions came in retaliation for Canada detaining Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in 2018 at the request of the United States.
“Please also respect our judicial system as we respect your judicial system, is my suggestion,” Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu said on Thursday during a virtual discussion hosted by the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy, in response to a question about the “two Michaels,” as the pair is referred to at home.
Cong said that Chinese authorities are doing everything necessary to protect Kovrig’s and Spavor’s rights but emphasized that the two are charged with serious crimes.
The ambassador renewed calls for the release of Meng, saying that deteriorating bilateral relations can be repaired if that happens.
The envoy also stressed the importance of people-to-people ties – noting that polls show very few in Canada hold favorable opinions of China – and encouraged Canadians to visit the East Asian country.
The arrests of Meng and the two Canadian nationals, along with Ottawa’s condemnation of Beijing’s national security law implemented in Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang province, has led to a deterioration of relations between China and Canada.
Both nations view the detention of their nationals by the other as political incidents. However, Chinese officials have said that Canada’s deference to US foreign policy served as a catalyst for the growing diplomatic rift.