Canada says China has detained 13 of its citizens since Sabrina Meng Wanzhou arrest

  • Before Thursday’s statement, only three detentions of Canadian citizens had been publicly disclosed
  • Diplomats have suggested the detentions are a retaliation by China to Canada’s arrest of Meng and extradition proceedings against her from the US
PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 11:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 4:31pm

Canada said on Thursday that 13 of its citizens had been detained in China since Huawei chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou was arrested last month in Vancouver at the request of the United States.

“At least” eight of those 13 had since been released, a Canadian government statement said, without disclosing what charges if any had been laid.

Prior to Thursday’s statement, the detention of only three Canadian citizens had been publicly disclosed. Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have escalated since Meng’s arrest on December 1.

The Canadian government has said several times it sees no explicit link between the arrest of Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, and the detentions of Canadian citizens. But Beijing-based Western diplomats and former Canadian diplomats have said they believe the detentions were a “tit-for-tat” reprisal by China.

China ‘will protect rights’ of detained Canadians

Meng was released on a C$10 million (US$7.4 million) bail on December 11 and is now living in one of her two multimillion-dollar Vancouver homes as she fights extradition to the US. The 46-year-old executive must wear an ankle monitor and stay at home from 11pm to 6am.

The 13 Canadians detained included Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor and Sarah McIver, said a Canadian government official, who declined to be identified, on Thursday.

McIver, a teacher, has since been released and returned to Canada. Kovrig and Spavor remain in custody. Canadian consular officials saw them once each in mid-December.

Overall, there are about 200 Canadians detained in China for a variety of alleged infractions who continue to face ongoing legal proceedings.

Beijing’s detention of Michael Kovrig has precedent as an act of reprisal, warns former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney

“This number has remained relatively stable,” the official said.

In comparison, there were almost 900 Canadians in a similar situation in the United States, the official added.