Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - Page 6 News List

China arrests group of Britons two days after narcotics bust

AFP, SHANGHAI

Four Britons have been arrested in an eastern Chinese province, the British embassy said yesterday, two days after Chinese police announced a drug bust there involving 16 foreigners.

Police in Xuzhou in Jiangsu Province on Wednesday said that a total of 19 people were arrested in a drugs case centering on a local branch of a language school.

Those arrested included seven foreign teachers and nine foreign students, police said, but gave no other details on specific nationalities or facts of the case.

“We are in contact with the Chinese authorities following the arrest of four British people in Jiangsu Province, and are providing consular assistance,” a spokeswoman for the British embassy in Beijing told reporters.

The embassy could not confirm whether the arrests were related to the drugs case, she said.

Swiss-based Education First, which operates a chain of language schools in China, earlier this week released a statement acknowledging a suspected drug case at one of its branches in Xuzhou, saying that the company was cooperating with police on the investigation and that employees found to be involved in wrongdoing would be dismissed.

Drug convictions can result in long prison sentences in China, or the death penalty in cases of trafficking.

China has this year already sentenced two Canadians to death on drug trafficking charges, as a diplomatic dispute with Ottawa rages.

Beijing is furious over the arrest in Vancouver of a top executive of telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co on a US extradition request related to Iran sanctions breaches.

The Canadian drug sentences have sparked questions over whether they were in retaliation for the Huawei arrest.

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