Sat, Jan 19, 2019 - Page 5 News List

China hits back at accusations

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES:A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said that Canada, not China, poses a threat, as it detained a Huawei executive for ‘no reason’


China on Thursday rejected an accusation by the Canadian minister of foreign affairs that its detentions of Canadians pose a threat to all countries.

“I think your foreign minister may be in a hurry, and can’t help speaking without thinking,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said in response to a question from a Canadian journalist on what threat China poses to Canada.

Canada instead poses a threat by detaining a Chinese citizen for “no reason,” she said.

She was referring to the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co (華為) chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) in Canada at the request of the US.

“It is understandable that Canada is a little worried, but we hope it will avoid speaking freely without thinking, because its reputation and image would be badly damaged by such behaviors, and such remarks cannot help settle the issue either,” Hua said.

Meng’s arrest while she was traveling through Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1 last year created a growing diplomatic rift.

Meng is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder. She is wanted by the US in an investigation into Iran sanctions contraventions.

China detained two Canadians shortly after her arrest in what Western analysts see as an attempt to pressure Canada to release her.

“What they are doing is not good for China’s image in the world. It’s not good for the image of corporate China in the world,” Canadian ambassador to China John McCallum said.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said earlier this week that China’s “arbitrary detentions of Canadians ... represent a way of behaving which is a threat to all countries.”

China also sentenced another Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, to death on Monday in a sudden retrial of his drug-smuggling case.

The US Department of State called the death sentence “politically motivated.”

A statement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he and Freeland spoke on Tuesday and “expressed their concerns about the arbitrary detentions and politically motivated sentencing of Canadian nationals.”

Canada has embarked on a campaign with allies to win the release of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, who were detained 10 days after Meng’s arrest. They were arrested on vague allegations of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security” of China.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office on Thursday said that Trudeau spoke to Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about the “detention of two Canadians in China, the application of the death penalty to a third Canadian in China, and the importance of safeguarding international norms, including diplomatic immunity, judicial independence and respect for the rule of law.”

Many countries have expressed support for Canada.

The Spanish government on Thursday said in a statement that it was concerned about the death sentence against Schellenberg and expressed concern about the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor.

McCallum said that Canada has done a great job getting allies to support Canada’s position, but he added: “I really think that’s just the beginning.”

Freeland said the detained Canadians would be at the top of her agenda when she visits Davos for the World Economic Forum next week.

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