Canada has formally requested the release of two citizens detained by China in what appears to be in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group ICG think-tank, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, were detained last week.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued the following statement:
“We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of two Canadians earlier this month and call for their immediate release.
Canada absolutely has options and Canada is working hard in a very concerted, organized way to secure the release of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor.”
Freeland stated that China’s retaliatory arrest of two Canadian citizens is a worrying precedent that has resonated with allies.
The US, UK and EU have expressed support for Canada and has condemned China for the arbitrary detention. Likewise, the allies have demanded that the arrested men be released immediately.
US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino echoed the sentiment of the allies regarding the unnecessary detention of Korvig and Spavor:
“We also express our deep concern for the Chinese government’s detention of two Canadians earlier this month and call for their immediate release.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated Washington’s call for the release of the Canadians.
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt played the role of the diplomat to the hilt. Hunt stated that he is confident Canada is respecting its extradition treaty with the US and that he is “deeply concerned” China may have detained the two Canadians for political reasons.
The EU also issued a statement saying, “The declared motive for the arrest and detention of Michael Korvig and Michael Spavor, both Canadian nationals, raises concerns about legitimate research and business practices in China.”
Freeland stated “We are very hard at work. We understand that working co-operatively, collectively with allies, is a very effective way for Canada to work in the world and that is what we have been doing.”
She expressed gratitude for the support and declared that Canada will not compromise or nor politicize the rule of law. She stressed, “It is the bedrock of democracy.”