PM CALLS FOR RE­LEASE OF CANA­DI­ANS HELD IN CHINA

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OT­TAWA • Peo­ple around the world are “ex­tremely dis­turbed” by China’s de­ten­tion of two Cana­di­ans, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said in Mali this week­end as he called for Michael Kovrig and Michael Spa­vor to be re­leased.Canada is com­mu­ni­cat­ing with China about how im­por­tant it is to re­lease the de­tainees, Trudeau said Sat­ur­day in ref­er­ence to the two men taken into cus­tody on se­cu­rity grounds ear­lier this month.The two were ar­rested days af­ter Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties ar­rested Meng Wanzhou, a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive with Chi­nese firm Huawei Tech­nolo­gies, at Van­cou­ver’s air­port on Dec. 1 af­ter re­ceiv­ing an ex­tra­di­tion re­quest from the U.S.Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties sub­se­quently ar­rested Kovrig, a for­mer diplo­mat on leave from Global Af­fairs Canada and Spa­vor, an en­tre­pre­neur.“We are im­press­ing upon the Chi­nese how it is im­por­tant that they re­lease those de­tainees be­cause this is some­thing that Cana­di­ans, quite frankly, and peo­ple around the world are ex­tremely dis­turbed by,” Trudeau told re­porters dur­ing a sur­prise visit with peace­keep­ers in Gao, Mali.Trudeau’s com­ments come as Canada re­lays to its al­lies that the de­ten­tion of the two Cana­di­ans sets a wor­ry­ing prece­dent — a point that For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land says has “re­ally res­onated.”Ger­many said on Sun­day it’s con­vinced Canada will en­sure Wanzhou has ac­cess to a fair, un­bi­ased and trans­par­ent ju­di­cial pro­ce­dure.“For the two Cana­di­ans who have been ar­rested in China, we urge that they be treated fairly and in com­pli­ance with the rule of law,” the coun­try’s for­eign of­fice said in a state­ment.On Fri­day, the U.S. State Depart­ment said Canada was hon­our­ing its in­ter­na­tional le­gal com­mit­ments in ar­rest­ing Wanzhou and it also called for Kovrig and Spa­vor’s re­lease.Bri­tain’s for­eign sec­re­tary also re­leased a state­ment say­ing the U.K. is deeply con­cerned by sug­ges­tions of po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion for their de­ten­tion, and the Euro­pean Union said it raises con­cerns about le­git­i­mate re­search and busi­ness prac­tices in China.For Canada, the Meng in­ci­dent has cast a shadow over the Trudeau gov­ern­ment’s de­sire to deepen trade with China as the cor­ner­stone of a broader strat­egy to di­ver­sify into Asian mar­kets.Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer has ac­cused Trudeau of tak­ing a “naive ap­proach” to China, leav­ing Canada with­out “lever­age” to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion. He has also urged the prime min­is­ter to reach out to the high­est lev­els of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.On Wednes­day, Global Af­fairs Canada said a third Cana­dian was de­tained in China, but Trudeau said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has no rea­son to be­lieve the case is linked to the de­ten­tion of Kovrig and Spa­vor.

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