U.S. Demands China Release Canadians in Huawei-Linked Case
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Beijing’s sentencing of Canadian citizen Michael Spavor, saying his detention was politically motivated, and called for the immediate release of all people “arbitrarily” detained in China.
“The practice of arbitrarily detaining individuals to exercise leverage over foreign governments is completely unacceptable,” Blinken said in a statement Wednesday. “People should never be used as bargaining chips.”
A Chinese court this week sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison for spying, some 24 hours after a fellow citizen convicted of drug trafficking had his death sentence upheld. The Canadian government condemned the moves, which the top U.S. diplomat in Beijing called a “blatant attempt to use human beings as bargaining leverage.”
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that things are happening right now while events are going on in Vancouver,” Canadian Ambassador Dominic Barton told reporters Tuesday in China.
Spavor and fellow Canadian Michael Kovrig had been detained since 2018, shortly after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., at the request of the U.S.
The detentions in China have widely been viewed as retaliation for Meng’s arrest. She continues to fight her extradition to the U.S., while remaining in her house in Vancouver.
Blinken said he has raised these cases as well as others involving American citizens with Chinese officials.
The U.S. also is troubled by what it termed a lack of transparency surrounding the legal proceedings and is demanding full consular access to the Canadian detainees, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the China-Canada Consular Agreement, Blinken said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.