SHANGHAI (NEWS 1130) – A group of Canadian politicians travelling in China has pressed Chinese officials to free two Canadians being detained in that country.
The men have been in detention since early December, and are at the centre of an international dispute following the arrest of a Chinese telecom executive.
The delegation has met with officials twice so far, and on both occasions, there were in-depth discussions about the arrests of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.
Conservative MP Michael Cooper, who is one of six politicians on the trip, says their message was clear.
“It was completely unacceptable, and is a serious impediment to the important bilateral relationship between Canada and China,” he says in a phone interview.
Cooper describes the efforts so far as constructive.
“The more that the message can be conveyed, the better,” he adds.
The detentions are widely seen as retaliation over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, at the request of American authorities.
Cooper says the Chinese system is different and the delegation had to explain Canada’s extradition treaty and why there will be no political interference in the case.
“It’s not up to us,” he says. “This is a process that is completely independent of us.”
China’s top prosecutor said last week that he is certain the two men, who are being detained on suspicion of endangering national security, have broken the law.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed on Friday that 13 Canadians have been taken into custody in China since early December — although, at least eight have since been released and returned to Canada.
The delegation is in China until the weekend.