China, Canada Discuss Third Detainee’s Return, Report Says

(Bloomberg) -- Canada was in discussions with China over the return of a third Canadian national detained in recent days, the National Post reported, a move that could ease one source of tension in the diplomatic feud between the two nations.

The third Canadian has been identified as Sarah McIver from Alberta and was believed to have been taken into custody over visa issues related to her teaching in China, the newspaper reported late Wednesday, citing multiple sources it didn’t identify. Arrangements were being made for her return, the paper said, noting that diplomatic officials say the case remains unresolved.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday in Beijing that the third Canadian had been detained over illegal work. She noted that the case was being handled by public security authorities -- rather than the national security involved in cases against the other two Canadians.

“China will provide cooperation and assistance for the Canadian side to conduct consular activities,” Hua said.

“Consular officials are providing assistance to the family,” Maegan Graveline, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said earlier Wednesday, referring to the latest case. “Due to the provisions under the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also played down links between the third case and those of two Canadians detained by China’s spy agency on Dec. 10, saying it didn’t fit the same pattern.

The developments suggest that Chinese and Canadian officials are looking to contain a diplomatic dispute the erupted after Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Vancouver as part of a U.S.-led extradition effort. China’s subsequent detention of former diplomat Michael Kovrig and North Korea fixer Michael Spavor as part of “national security” investigations prompted fears of reprisal by Beijing.

Meng is free on bail awaiting her next hearing. Kovrig and Spavor remain in custody, and it’s unclear what specific allegations they’re being investigated for and whether they face charges.

The National Post reported that McIver had previously taught in South Korea and Malaysia. She traveled to China to teach earlier this year, but discovered the post was filled and was transferred to another city.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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