The two Canadians detained in China since December have been formally arrested for spying, Beijing said on Thursday, in a move that is set to raise tensions between the two countries. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig was charged with gathering state secrets, while businessman Michael Spavor was charged with stealing and providing secrets for overseas forces, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a press conference. “China hopes that Canada will not interfere,” he said. Lu said the arrests were made “recently”, though did not give an exact date, adding that they had been approved by prosecutors. Global Affairs Canada, the government department responsible for diplomatic and consular relations, said it had been told about the arrests on Wednesday and opposed them. “Canada strongly condemns their arbitrary arrest as we condemned their arbitrary detention on December 10,” the department was quoted as saying in a statement published by The Globe and Mail . Canadian officials visit Michael Kovrig in custody The arrests of Korvig and Spavor come as Ottawa continues to process the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, to the United States. Meng was arrested in Vancouver in December at Washington’s request, on fraud charges linked to the alleged violation of US sanctions on Iran. Both she and Huawei, a company set up by her father, denied the charges, while China accused the US of having a political motive for the move. In the latest and most extreme move targeting China’s tech sector, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order banning telecoms companies from buying foreign equipment that could pose a threat to national security, effectively shutting Huawei out of the US market. Meanwhile, the US commerce department said it had put Huawei and dozens of affiliated firms on a list of entities deemed risks to national security, which means they are prohibited from buying US components and technologies without special approval. Beijing’s detention of Korvig and Spavor came just days after Meng was arrested and was seen by many observers as an act of retaliation. In March, China upped the ante by accusing the two men of acting together to steal state secrets . Xinhua reported that Korvig had entered the country using an ordinary passport and business visas, and obtained intelligence from Spavor. In January, a court in northeast China sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death for drug trafficking, while in April, a Canadian was one of two men also sentenced to death for drug offences by a court in the nation’s south. The high-profile cases have strained relations between Beijing and Ottawa. Canada criticised China for not allowing Kovrig and Spavor access to their families or lawyers, while more than 100 academics and former diplomats – many of them veteran China-watchers – called on Beijing to release the pair an open letter in January. Under Chinese law the two men will be remain in detention pending and investigation, after which they will be prosecuted or released. Meng is currently under house arrest in a property she owns in Vancouver after being released on bail.