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China blasts Ottawa and allies for hypocrisy over detained Canadians, calling Meng Wanzhou’s arrest ‘truly arbitrary’

  • Spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry defends arrest of two Canadians while excoriating Canada and US for detaining Huawei Technologies CFO
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 December, 2018, 5:59am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 December, 2018, 6:28am

China’s foreign ministry has blasted Canada and its allies for hypocrisy concerning their criticism of Beijing’s detention of two Canadian citizens, with a spokeswoman mimicking Ottawa to say that it was the arrest of Huawei Technologies CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou that “truly merits the name of arbitrary detention”.

At a ministry briefing in Beijing on Monday, spokeswoman Hua Chunying was asked about China’s detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, which Canada last week called “arbitrary” and in contrast to the “fair, unbiased and transparent” treatment of Meng, who had been arrested in Vancouver at the request of the US on December 1.

Canada and US demand China’s release of Canadians

Hua let loose at the US, Britain and the EU for siding with Ottawa in the dispute, calling Meng’s detention “ugly”.

“I wonder how they are involved in this case? Where were their voices when the senior manager of the Chinese company was illegally detained by the Canadian side at the behest of the US?” asked Hua, in comments published in English on the ministry’s website.

“It is quite obvious that the human rights they are talking about have different standards when it comes to citizens of different countries.”

Meng has been released on bail pending the outcome of an extradition hearing. The United States – which is locked in a trade war with China – has accused her of fraud, in relation to violating sanctions on Iran.

The arrests of Spavor and Kovrig have been seen by some as retaliation by China.

But Hua rejected this. “China’s competent authorities took compulsory measures in accordance with law against the Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Sparov because they engaged in activities undermining China’s national security,” she said, adding that “we urge the relevant countries to earnestly respect China’s judicial sovereignty”.

Turning to Meng’s arrest, Hua said she “has violated no Canadian laws as the Canadian side itself has acknowledged”.

“This action, which is far from legal, legitimate and reasonable, is what truly merits the name of arbitrary detention.

“The Canadian [side] cannot stop talking about its so-called legal obligations under its bilateral extradition treaty with the US. Does that mean that it can turn a blind eye to and trample on the basic norms of international law and international relations? Does that mean that it is okay for Canada to ignore its obligations in terms of protecting the legal rights and interests of Chinese nationals?”

Hua called on Canada to “correct its mistakes” and immediately release Meng, and for the US to withdraw its extradition request, saying that “the ugly nature and impacts of the Meng Wanzhou case cannot be clearer”.

China detained Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, and Spavor, a China-based business consultant, on December 10.

Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, has seen Kovrig and Spavor, but there are concerns about their conditions in detention, with Kovrig's employer, the International Crisis Group, saying he had been denied access to a lawyer.

Third detained Canadian given ‘administrative punishment’

A third Canadian citizen, identified as Sarah McIver, was accused of visa violations, the Chinese foreign ministry said last week. But her case seems less serious than those of her compatriots, Chinese officials said, and she was being held by local rather than national security forces.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse