China rebuked Canada’s claim of engaging in “coercive diplomacy” by keeping two Canadian men hostage as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd executive faces extradition trial in the North American country. Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou was detained by Canadian authorities in December 2018 and is currently under house arrest in Vancouver. Beijing retaliated within days and detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.
Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he would fight China’s “coercive diplomacy”, adding that arbitrary arrests, human rights violation “not a particularly productive path.” China’s envoy to Ottawa, Cong Peiwu, dismissed the claims, saying the Canadian citizens have been prosecuted because of suspected activities which endangers China’s national security.
“There’s no coercive diplomacy on the Chinese side,” said Cong in a video news conference.
The Chinese envoy further said that the arrests of Spavor and Kovrig were unrelated and accused Canada of using “coercive measures” by arresting Huawei executive as “she was breaking no Canadian law at all.” He called for the immediate release of Meng “to create conditions to bring Canada-China relations back on the right track.”
"Some Canadian leader and senior official made erroneous remarks and unwarranted accusations on China. The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition," the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a separate statement.
A Canadian judge has denied Meng access to most of the documents her lawyers wanted to use to help prevent her extradition to the United States. Prosecutors have accused her of misleading a bank in the US on Huawei’s relationship with a company operating in Iran, putting it at risk of penalties for flouting US sanctions on Tehran.
However, defence lawyers have argued that the case is about the US sanctions on Iran and not a bank fraud case, adding that Canada has repudiated the sanctions. In May, British Columbia’s Superior Court judge Heather Holmes ruled that the legal standard of double criminality had been met. Holmes said that Meng’s approach would seriously limit Canada’s ability to fulfil its international obligations in the extradition context for fraud and other economic crimes.