China Rejects Trudeau's Immunity Claim for Detained Canadian
(Bloomberg) -- China rejected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claim that a Canadian detained last month in Beijing was entitled to diplomatic protections against prosecution.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that Michael Kovrig, who’s on leave from the Canadian foreign service, wasn’t entitled to diplomatic immunity. Kovrig -- now a regional adviser for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group -- entered China on a business visa, she said.
“I would suggest the Canadian study the Vienna Convention before making such a comment, so as not to be inaccurate and make oneself a laughing stock,” Hua said, in response to a question about Trudeau’s remarks. “Michael Korvig doesn’t enjoy diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention. He is not currently a diplomat.”
Kovrig was detained by China’s spy agency on suspicion of “activities endangering national security” on Dec. 10, days after Canada arrested a Huawei Technologies Co. executive as part of a U.S.-led extradition effort. The cases -- as well as the Chinese spy agency’s detention of a second Canadian, Michael Spavor -- have sparked an escalating diplomatic feud between the two sides.
At a news briefing Friday, Trudeau singled out Kovrig’s case. “It is unfortunate that China has arbitrarily and unfairly detained two Canadian citizens, and indeed in one of the cases is not respecting the principles of diplomatic immunity,” Trudeau told reporters.
The extradition effort against Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is among several high-profile moves by Western nations against the mobile phone and telecommunication equipment maker amid concerns about its Chinese government ties. On Friday, China protested Poland’s arrest of a local former Huawei employee over spying allegations.
Hua, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, called on Poland to allow Chinese diplomats to visit the suspect, Wang Weijing, and handle the case in accordance with the law.
“Huawei has a track record on security performance,” Hua said. “We urge the relevant parties to stop smearing and suppressing Chinese companies and to provide a fair environment for mutual investment and cooperation. Citing security to crack down on normal cooperation will only hurt their own interests.”
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