Although on an official level the detainment by China of now 2 Canadians working in diplomatic positions cannot be linked to the arrest of the Huawei CFO by the Vancouver police (at the request of the US justice department), it is quite clear that Beijing is sending a stark message.
According to the Canadian Foreign Minister, Ms Chrystia Freeland, another countryman of hers was detained and interrogated after the arrest earlier this week of a Canadian ex-diplomat in China. Tensions between Canada and China have risen since the arrest of the CFO of Chinese telecom giant Huawei in Vancouver.
The businesswoman was released on bail by a judge in Vancouver earlier this week whilst the US government is asking for her extradition.
According to the foreign minister, the Canadian who was questioned himself raised the alarm. She did not want to lose details about the identity of the person, "given the delicate situation".
Related coverage: Huawei War - China Jails Canadian Diplomat, Bail For Wanzhou Set At $7.5 Million
Canadian authorities have not been able to contact the man just yet. Ms Freeland said: "We are working to determine where it is, and we also questioned the Chinese authorities about this."
According to the Canadian press, the person involved would be Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company organizes visits to North Korea for tourists, among others. The man lives in China and would have been involved in setting up the meeting of American former basket player Dennis Rodman with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Earlier, Ottawa confirmed that another former diplomat, Michael Kovrig, had been arrested in China. Beijing confirmed his arrest in the meantime by fax. "We are very worried about the imprisonment of Mr Kovrig," said Foreign Minister Freeland.
Officially there is no connection between the arrests of the Canadians and the Huawei case, but observers do see a link. China can use the arrest of the two individuals as a trade-off for the release of the Huawei CFO, who is suspected of having violated the US embargo against Iran.
Freeland stressed yesterday that Canadian authorities cannot intervene in the Huawei case, as it is a matter of the justice department. In saying so, she contradicted statements made by US Trump who had earlier stated he could intervene if necessary.
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