Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne met with his Chinese counterpart, State Councilor Wang Yi, in Rome on Tuesday.
In a meeting lasting more than 90 minutes, Champagne urged Beijing to release two Canadian citizens who have been detained by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since early 2019 and were charged in June of this year with alleged espionage.
The ties between the two countries have deteriorated considerably since Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, in December 2018 on an extradition warrant from the United States.
Reuters reported that shortly after Wanzhou’s arrest, the CCP arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and charged them with espionage. The regime also blocked imports of some canola seeds.
“Minister Champagne again reiterated that the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor remain a top priority … and that Canada continues to call on China to immediately release both men.”
For his part, the Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman for the CCP, Zhao Lijian, said in a press conference published on the official website regarding Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, that their arrests were carried out following appropriate legal regulations. He added, “that in all their conversations with Canadian representatives, it has been made very clear to them that Canada must respect Chinese judicial sovereignty.”
The regime’s spokesman also implied that Canada’s bilateral relations are not good and blamed the Americans for that. In a threatening tone, Lijian said: “The Canadian side is well aware of the crux of the problem. It should take immediate and effective action to correct the mistakes and create the conditions for the bilateral relationship to return to the right track.”
Last month, Canada suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong following new Chinese national security legislation. It said it would boost immigration from the former British colony by opening its doors to it.
Lijian was not specific in his speech and did not elucidate the exact reason for his anger against Canada. It is assumed that the annoyance stems from the arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou, and Canada’s suspension of the extradition treaty, in disagreement with the new Hong Kong security law, and its offer to allow the entry of Hong Kong citizens.