Canada says third citizen detained in China amid diplomatic row

Huawei Chairman Ken Hu

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that although a third Canadian has been detained in China, he doesn't want to escalate the worldwide situation.

Michael Kovrig, who is on a leave of absence from Global Affairs, and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were detained in Beijing on Dec 1 - the same day RCMP arrested Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

"I want to be very, very careful about how we characterize (the detention of the third Canadian)", Trudeau said.

A third Canadian has been arrested in China, according to the Canadian foreign ministry, escalating a bitter row over the arrest of a Chinese business leader earlier this month.

Chinese authorities detained ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor last week on charges of threatening national security.

Kovrig took an unpaid leave from his diplomatic post a year ago to work as a Hong Kong-based senior adviser at the International Crisis Group think tank, while Spavor facilitates trips to North Korea, including visits by former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman.

Canada has confirmed a third Canadian citizen has been detained in China.

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Though Meng has been granted bail, she faces possible extradition to the United States for allegedly doing business with Iran in violation of USA sanctions.

Ottawa has repeatedly said Meng's arrest was not political but rather part of a judicial process in keeping with an extradition treaty with Washington. Meng enjoys a full panoply of rights, including legal representation, freedom on bail, and a hearing before an impartial and independent decision-maker.

He said governments don't have to disclose information publicly, but at least should show proof to phone companies that would be blocked from using Huawei technology.

Mulroney said it would be a problem for Canada and China.

Canadian officials did not connect the most recent arrest to the recent diplomatic turbulence between the countries.

While no link between the latest arrest and the first two has yet been established, the arrests are widely seen as retaliation for the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at a Vancouver airport december 1. "China's laws, among other things, require private companies residing in China to cooperate with intelligence services, therefore introducing them into the key state systems might present a threat", says the director of NCISA Dušan Navrátil. "Two is bad. Three underlines how ruthless China can be", he said.

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