The Foreign Ministry said the two Canadian nationals were “suspected of endangering China’s national security.”
China has brought to justice two Canadians imprisoned in the past two years, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested in China on December 10, 2018.
Confirming that the men had been charged and tried, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the two Canadian nationals “are suspected of endangering China’s national security.”
Hua has denied any connection to the case against Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is being held in Canada and was arrested days before Kovrig and Spavor in 2018.
Hua said that unlike Kovrig and Spavor’s detention, Meng’s arrest in Canada had been “a political matter” from the start.
However, diplomats suspect China of having acted in retaliation and accuse the country of “hostage diplomacy”.
The independent organization Crisis Group, on behalf of which Kovrig worked, has again condemned his arrest, its chairman Robert Malley saying he was arrested “only because he was a Canadian in China in the wrong place at the wrong time” .
Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne released a statement on Wednesday marking their two years in captivity, saying: “These two Canadians are a top priority for our government, and we will continue to work tirelessly to secure their immediate release. and stand up as a government and as Canadians.
“I am struck by the integrity and strength of character that the two men displayed as they endured immense hardships that would shake anyone’s faith in humanity,” said Champagne.
Meng’s arrest severely damaged relations between Canada and China, which sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended imports of canola from Canada.
Escaping sanctions against Iran
Meng, for her part, who is the daughter of the founder of the Chinese communications giant, was detained in Vancouver at the instigation of the American authorities.
The US government accuses Huawei’s chief financial officer of bank fraud in connection with the circumvention of sanctions against Iran and has requested extradition.
Meng is under house arrest in Canada. If convicted in the United States, she faces a long prison term.
It is not known publicly where Kovrig and Spavor are being held or under what conditions, although Canada’s ambassador to China testified this week before a House of Commons committee that they were “tough.”
Canadian diplomats were denied all access to the two men from January to October due to coronavirus precautions cited by the Chinese side. Site visits were banned and even virtual visits were not allowed.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has called China’s approach coercive diplomacy, spoke with US President-elect Joe Biden last month about the two men’s case and said he expects that Biden would be a good partner in persuading Beijing to release them.