sentenced to death for drug smuggling in Liaoning province, Canada has updated its travel advisory for China, warning Canadians to exercise a “high degree of caution” due to “the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”fter a Canadian man was
The advisory echoes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to the news that Robert Lloyd Schellenberg had been given the death penalty only two months after the same court had sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
That initial sentencing was deemed too lenient by state prosecutors and the High People’s Court of Liaoning Province ordered a retrial with the addition of new evidence aimed at demonstrating that Schellenberg not only smuggled over 222 kilograms of methamphetamine, but that he was also a “core member” of an international drug trafficking ring.
Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 and first went to trial in 2016. His initial sentencing came in November 2018 while his appeals hearing came in late December. In between those two trials, Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the US, sparking outrage from Beijing. The timing of all this has led many to believe that Schellenberg’s death sentence comes in retaliation, much like China’s recent arrests of two Canadian nationals on suspicion of “engaging in activities harming national security.”
China is known for handing out harsh sentences for drug crimes including the death penalty when substantial amounts of illicit substances are involved. Foreigners have been executed before in China for drug smuggling including aPakistani-British businessmanin 2009 who some argued had been tricked into smuggling heroin. While the official numbers are a state secret, China is believed to execute more people each year than the rest of the world’s countries combined.
Former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, told theGlobe and Mailthat at least two Canadian citizens have previously been executed in China for drug crimes, despite objections from previous Canadian prime ministers. Both of them were of Chinese origin though one had entered China on a Canadian passport.
Canada’s travel advisory update follows a similar one earlier this month from the US which warned its citizens to “exercise increased caution” when traveling to China “due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals,” referring here to China’s use of exit bans to keep US citizens in the country, sometimes for years, for the purposes of compelling them to participate in Chinese government investigations or of luring other individuals back to China from abroad.