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Canadian Foreign Minister vows to keep Meng case apolitical

December 14, 2018

Freeland, speaking alongside US counterpart Mike Pompeo, said it was a point of agreement between the allies. Earlier Friday, Canada said its ambassador was given access to one of two Canadians jailed in China this week.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington DC
Image: picture-alliance/AP/M. Balce Ceneta

Speaking alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland addressed tensions between the two allies and China over Canada's arrest of Chinese citizen Meng Wanzhou.

Meng is the chief financial officer (CFO) at Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The United States is seeking Meng's extradition on charges that her company violated US sanctions on conducting business with Iran. Meng, who was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, was released on CA$10 million ($7.5 million / €6.6 million) bail Tuesday.

What, us politicize something like this?

Freeland's vow to ensure that the case against Meng remains apolitical comes just days after US President Donald Trump offered to intervene in the Meng case if China would give ground in the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Freeland refuted a reporter's insinuation that she was being used by the United States in the Meng case.

She did, however, reiterate the importance of not misusing the extradition process by politicizing it, stressing that in Canada's eyes it was solely a judicial issue: "It's very important for Canada that Ms Meng be treated with full respect and be given full access to due process in Canada, as she has been. Canada understands the rule of law and extradition issues ought not ever be politicized or used as tools to resolve other issues."

Read more: ZTE, Huawei bans: Genuine security concerns or part of China trade spat?

'Very concerned'

Freeland also emphasized the importance of remembering that two Canadian citizens arrested by Beijing this week and currently detained in China "are human beings," saying that for her and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, "there are no issues that touch us more personally and immediately than the detention of Canadians outside our country." She added that she was "very concerned about these two Canadians."   

On Thursday, China confirmed that Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig, an ex-diplomat who is now an expert at the think tank International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, who runs a China-based nonprofit organization, are being held in detention. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said the two are "suspected of being involved in activities endangering China's national security law."

The arrest of the two men is widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of Meng.  


Pompeo called China's detention of the men "unacceptable," though he refused to call out Beijing when asked if he thought China was politicizing the situation by arresting the Canadians.

On Friday, Canada confirmed that Ambassador to China John McCallum was granted access to Michael Kovrig, releasing a statement that read, "Canadian consular officials continue to provide consular services to him and his family and will continue to seek further access to Mr Kovrig."

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei unveils 5G test

js/bw (dpa,Reuters)

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