Only days after Chinese authorities confirmed they detained an ex-Canadian diplomat in the thick of the turmoil caused by Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou’s arrest, Canadian government officials have said a second Canadian citizen has gone ‘missing’ in China.
Canada’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that it had been unable to contact Michael Spavor since he notified the government that he was being questioned by Chinese authorities.
‘We are aware that a Canadian citizen, Mr. Michael Spavor, is presently missing in China,’ ministry spokesman Guillaume Berube told AFP in an email. ‘We have been unable to make contact since he let us know he was being questioned by Chinese authorities.’
Shortly afterward, a Chinese government website confirmed that Spavor — reportedly a businessman based in the northern Chinese city of Dandong — was in custody and was being questioned for ‘activities that endanger China’s national security,’ without providing further details.
The Canadian government had previously told a Press conference that it was ‘working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts’ talking about Spavor ‘and we have also raised his case with Chinese authorities,’ Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.
The development comes days after Canada said its national Michael Kovrig had been arrested on a trip to Beijing.
A former Canadian diplomat has been arrested in China, amid tensions over the recent detention of a Chinese telecom executive in Vancouver.
Canadian officials said they had been officially informed of Kovrig’s detention via fax early on Monday.
‘Canada is deeply concerned about the detention of Mr. Kovrig and Canada has raised the case directly with Chinese officials’ Freeland said.
Kovrig was working in Hong Kong like the North East Asia senior adviser for the International Crisis Group (ICG).
The developments come amid a diplomatic dispute that was initiated when Canada arrested a Chinese national, Meng Wanzhou — who is the chief financial officer for the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei — at Vancouver’s airport on December 1.
The United States is seeking to have Meng extradited on allegations that she attempted to bypass American sanctions on Iran.
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She was released in Canada on strict bail conditions on Tuesday.
Canada warns against politicizing extradition
Trump had earlier said he’d be willing to intervene in Meng’s case if it helped seal a trade deal with China. The Canadian Foreign Minister had however warned against politicizing the case.
‘Our extradition partners should not seek to politicize the extradition process or use it for ends other than the pursuit of justice and following the rule of law,’ the Canadian foreign minister said.
Freeland said it would be ‘up to Ms. Meng’s lawyers whether they choose to raise comments in the US as part of their defense of Ms. Meng,’ and that it ‘will be up to the Canadian judicial process, to Canadian judges, how to weigh the significance of what Ms. Meng’s lawyers say.’
The arrest of Huawei’s CFO, Meng further soured UN-China tensions and led to the summoning of both the Canadian and US ambassadors by Beijing over the weekend.
The Trump administration started a trade war with China in April which is currently on a 90-day truce pending when a concrete deal can be reached by both parties.