third Canadian national has reportedly been detained by Chinese authorities following Canada’s arrest of a top Huawei executive at the behest of the United States.
So far, no information has been released about this third individual. Canada’s foreign affairs department has only confirmed that it is aware a third citizen has been detained in China. Meanwhile, at a daily press briefing on Wednesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that she was not aware of this new case.
The detention comes amid a dispute between Canada and China that was triggered by the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the Vancouver airport on December 1st. Meng was arrested at the request of authorities in the US, where the 46-year-old executive is wanted for allegedly violating sanctions against Iran.
Meng’s arrest has infuriated China which warned that Canada will face “serious consequences” if she is not quickly released. A few days later one Canadian national, a former diplomat named Michael Kovrig, was detained, followed soon by another Canadian, Michael Spavor, the founder of a non-profit that organizes trips and cultural exchanges with North Korea.
China has said that both men are being investigated on suspicion of “harming state security,” bringing that they may spend years in Chinese custody and be charged with espionage.
While Beijing has denied that there is any link between the detentions and Meng’s arrest, when asked last week about whether Kovrig’s detention was just a coincidence, former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, did not hold back, saying:
“In China there are no coincidences. In this case it is clear the Chinese government wants to put maximum pressure on the Canadian government.”