Lawmakers head to China to push for release of Canadian detainees
Members of the Canada-china Legislative Association will be arriving on Saturday
OTTAWA—A group of Canadian lawmakers travelling to China this weekend will use the trip to push for the release of two Canadians detained there since last month, says a Conservative MP in the delegation.
That is something all Canadian travellers to China ought to be doing, says the boss of one of the imprisoned Canadians.
Michael Kovrig, a diplomat on a leave from Global Affairs Canada and employed in Beijing by the International Crisis Group, and the entrepreneur Michael Spavor were arrested last month in China. The arrests are widely viewed as Chinese retaliation for Canada’s arrest of high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, by the RCMP in Vancouver at the request of the United States.
“People who do go to China, I’m hoping they will raise this with their interlocutors to make clear that it is hurting China’s image in the world, and it’s going to make it harder for some people who want to travel to China,” Robert Malley, the Crisis Group’s president and a former member of the U.S. National Security Council under president Barack Obama, said in an interview Thursday.
That’s exactly what the members of the Canada-china Legislative Association say they will do when they arrive in China on Saturday, said Conservative MP Michael Cooper.
“I and the other members of the delegation will engage with Chinese officials in as constructive way as possible, with the obvious objective of seeing these two Canadians returned safely and as soon as possible,” Cooper said.
The Edmonton-area MP is joining three Liberal MPS, a Liberal senator and Conservative senator on the previously scheduled trip that is being funded by Canadian taxpayers.
Cooper acknowledged there was discussion about whether the trip would go ahead given the current tensions, until the leader of the delegation, Liberal Sen. Joseph Day, was briefed by the Canadian foreign ministry.
“The message from Global Affairs Canada ... was that it would be better for us to go rather than to cancel,” said Cooper. “Quite frankly, if there were safety issues or if it was deemed to not be beneficial, then we wouldn’t be going.”
The U.S. State Department updated its travel advisory on China on Thursday, urging American travellers to exercise “increased caution” while in China.
China’s response at thestar.com/canada