Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE)- That one Canadian citizen has been arrested in China only two weeks after the judicial kidnapping of the daughter of the founder Chinese company Huawei might be a coincidence. Now that a second Canadian has suddenly disappeared behind bars there is no doubt, that after threatening, Canada China has now decided how to put pressure on Montreal
Michael Spavor, a director of the Paektu Cultural Exchange, a company ‘that runs cultural and business exchanges with North Korea’, according to Washington based NPR has become the second Canadian within days to be detained in China on suspicion of harming national security, Chinese state media is reporting. He is perhaps best-known for facilitating the visits of former basketball star Dennis Rodman to Pyongyang.
Spavor’s arrest comes shortly after that of Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat. Kovrig was detained by Chinese state security in Beijing on Monday, according to his employer, the well known Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG).
The organization, which focuses on conflict resolution, said on Tuesday that it is ‘doing everything possible to secure additional information on Michael’s whereabouts as well as his prompt and safe release’. ICG chief Robert Malley has insisted to Reuters that Kovrig had not engaged in any illegal activity when visiting mainland China.
The arrests come after China warned of ‘serious consequences’ for Canada over the detention of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, who was taken into custody in Vancouver on 1 December at the request of the US. Beijing said Ottawa would ‘bear the full responsibility’ for Meng’s ‘unreasonable, merciless and very evil’ detention.
Optimistically, the Canadian government has been unwilling to link Meng’s arrest with the detention of Kovrig.
But Canada’s former ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, hinted at a connection when asked about the possibility by journalists.
‘In China there are no coincidences,’ Saint-Jacques said. ‘In this case it is clear the Chinese government wants to put maximum pressure on the Canadian government.’
The move makes clear that China does not wish to worsen relations needlessly with the United States with whom it is trying to settle a high profile trade dispute.
On the other hand, it is sending a clear message not only to Canada but to all the other lesser nations that all too easily run to do Washington’s bidding, legal or otherwise, that such conduct will come at a price. The days when Western countries could trample on the rights of the Chinese with impunity are over.