Canada – China 2019-2021

Written by  //  December 7, 2021  //  Canada, China  //  1 Comment

Canada-China Relations
Since Meng Wanzhou’s Arrest

(December 2019)

Spy agency warned Trudeau China’s tactics becoming more ‘sophisticated … insidious’
CSIS says foreign interference operations ‘have become normalized’
As Canada’s spy agency warns that China’s efforts to distort the news and influence media outlets in Canada “have become normalized,” critics are renewing calls for Ottawa to take a far tougher approach to foreign media interference.
The warning is contained in briefing documents drafted for Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director David Vigneault in preparation for a meeting he had with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this year.
“Chinese-language media outlets operating in Canada and members of the Chinese-Canadian community are primary targets of PRC-directed foreign influenced activities.”
John Ibbitson: Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly shows precious little understanding of her department
In thanking Dominic Barton, who is stepping down as Canada’s ambassador to China, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly tweeted: “Ambassador Barton will be remembered throughout history as one of Canada’s great diplomats.”
Nope.
This year’s Foreign Affairs Minister appears to have little understanding of the people and events that have shaped her department. She also appears to be exaggerating Mr. Barton’s role in ending the captivity of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

6 December
Canadian ambassador to China Dominic Barton resigns after two contentious years
Dominic Barton has tendered his resignation as ambassador to China after two tense years in which he was praised for helping secure the release of two Canadians from Chinese custody, and criticized for strongly pushing closer trade ties with Beijing.
(Politico) Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly predicted Barton “will be remembered throughout history as one of Canada’s great diplomats,” a compliment that had some eyes rolling in the world of global affairs (oh, to be a fly on the wall among the diplomatic corps at HQ on Sussex Drive).

2 October
The fight to free the Michaels: Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. describes the months before their release
Kirsten Hillman says there was no quid pro quo with China to get the Canadians out
(CBC) About a month before two Canadians detained in China were flown home in a sudden move that stunned observers of Canada-China relations, Beijing was sending signals to Canadian diplomats that it was moving closer to a resolution on the file.
Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, said the shift by Chinese officials was matched by increasing international pressure to resolve the cases of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
“At the same time, we doubled down on our advocacy. We tripled down on our advocacy — not just us, but the U.S. and all of our partners,” Hillman said in an interview on CBC Radio’s The House.
… The leaders of Canada, the U.S. and China will all meet face-to-face during the upcoming G20 summit in Rome at the end of the month.
Hillman said the imprisonment of Spavor and Kovrig will have an impact on China’s conduct in the future.
“I think China has understood that the act that they took vis-a-vis the Michaels has galvanized international condemnation of this tactic. I think that mattered,” Hillman said.

24-27 September
Jeremy Kinsman reminds us that Diplomacy Freed the Two Michaels. Now, it’s Time for a Little Strategic Amnesia
(Policy Magazine) The suddenness with which the thousand-day drama of Meng and the Two Michaels concluded was truly a surprise. There were no leaks, no prim granting of anonymity by the Globe and Mail to spinners and speculators. Most astonishing was that the status of these negotiations was kept secret even from the media in leak-addicted Washington and New York, where the legal proceedings against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou were located.
This was a US-China deal in the end, but one that was clearly heavily influenced by astute and effective communication by Canada. I don’t pretend to know exactly what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said to President Joe Biden, or when; nor how our ambassador in Beijing, Dominic Barton — a former McKinsey managing director who has considerable credibility in the US as well as in China — made the case in both places for US-China agreement on dual release, nor how our diplomats in Washington connected to top Biden officials. But it was a three-way conversation, and it worked.
Canada-China relations remain uncertain after Michaels, Meng Wanzhou released (video)
(Global news) The Chinese government insists there is no connection between the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and the return of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Much of the world, though, considers it a case of hostage diplomacy. As Abigail Bimman reports, how Ottawa navigates its relationship with Beijing won’t be easy.
China claims Kovrig, Spavor freed for health reasons
Foreign ministry sought to downplay connection between their release and the return of Meng Wanzhou
(CBC) When asked if China was making statements to save face, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said he was “not going to predict why they would have made that statement.”
“But I will agree with you that it is primarily for local consumption,” he told CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday.
“I saw the two Michaels yesterday. They’re in fine form.”
China says Canada must ‘draw lessons’ from the Meng Wanzhou case
A foreign ministry spokesman said President Xi Jinping personally handed down orders for handling the case

An extreme, vitriolic, view, but could have some underlying truths.
Terry Glavin: Justin Trudeau went all in on China a decade ago — and nothing can shake his resolve
Justin Trudeau has been singularly focused on trade with China, regardless of what the country’s sadistic leadership does
In the way the story’s usually told, relations between Canada and China are said to be at the lowest point in decades, or at an all-time low, or chillier than ever. But any close examination of the relationship will show that what these expressions more precisely describe is an ongoing, abject humiliation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government by China’s capricious and sadistic supreme ruler, Xi Jinping.

Jeremy Kinsman‘s reflections on the release of Michaels Spavor and Kovrig and the delicacy of the three-way negotiations (US-China-Canada) that made it happen. (video)
Former Canadian diplomat compares release of the Michaels to a ‘spy novel’
Colin Robertson’s somewhat different view with much emphasis on the importance of allies and multilateralism
Could release of 2 Michaels, Meng Wanzhou thaw Canada-China relations? Experts are mixed
The whiplash release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor from Chinese detention hours after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was allowed to return home could signal a new beginning in the Canada-China relationship, expert say.
But those experts warn the situation is not so simple, with many obstacles in the way of mending fences after years of frosty relations between the two countries.
To Get Back Arrested Executive, China Uses a Hardball Tactic: Seizing Foreigners
The speed at which Beijing returned two Canadians held seemingly tit-for-tat in exchange may signal comfort with the tactic.
Robert Fife: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor: After 1,020 days imprisoned in China, the two detainees arrive home in Canada
The two Michaels landed in Calgary at 5:40 a.m. local time Saturday. They were flown to the city, where Mr. Spavor’s family lives, by a Royal Canadian Air Force Challenger jet that came from Anchorage, Alaska.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met the two Canadians at the airport.
Mr. Spavor remained in Calgary. Mr. Kovrig arrived in Toronto in the early afternoon where he was greeted by his sister, Ariana, and wife, Vina Nadjibulla.

Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor freed from China after Meng Wanzhou released: Trudeau

Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor freed from China after Meng Wanzhou released: Trudeau
(Global) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are on their way back to Canada after spending over 1,000 days in detention in China.
Trudeau made the announcement hours after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was released from house arrest in Vancouver and allowed to return home to China after securing a deal to drop U.S. charges against her
Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, detained in China for almost 3 years, now on plane home
(CBC) Spavor and Kovrig’s flight departed China about 7:30 p.m. ET, Trudeau said. They are being accompanied by Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China.
Meng reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government earlier Friday, setting of a quick chain of events that saw her extradition case in a B.C. court dropped and her departure from Vancouver airport, also at about 7:30 p.m. ET.
Meng Wangzhou believed to have left Canada after B.C. court drops extradition case
(CBC) A B.C. court decided on Friday that the extradition case against Meng would be dropped after the Huawei chief financial officer reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government.
The deal with U.S. prosecutors resolved the charges against the Huawei executive.
As part of her arrangement with U.S. prosecutors, Meng pleaded not guilty in a court Friday to multiple fraud charges.
The Huawei chief financial officer entered the plea during a virtual appearance in a New York courtroom. She was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud more than two and a half years ago.
David Kessler, an attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, told the court the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) will last four years — from the time of her arrest on Dec. 1, 2018, to Dec. 1, 2022.
Later Friday afternoon, B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes officially ended the Canadian proceedings, signing an order to discharge the U.S. extradition request and vacate Meng’s bail conditions.

12 August
Crown wraps Meng Wanzhou extradition case with claim charge not ‘unique or unprecedented’
(CBC) Huawei executive’s lawyers to begin arguments Friday, claiming ‘evidentiary void’ at heart of case
Strip away the geopolitics and Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is like any other defendant facing a fraud charge, says a lawyer for Canada’s attorney general.
Robert Frater concluded the Crown’s request for Meng’s extradition on Thursday by assuring B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes she wouldn’t be breaking new legal ground by sending the executive to the U.S. to face trial.

9-11 August
Canada plans to appeal China’s ‘mock sham trial’ of Michael Spavor
Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau says Canada will appeal the 11-year sentence of Michael Spavor
“Fundamentally we know that the practice of arbitrary detention with a mock sham trial with absolutely no transparency whatsoever and a verdict that is completely unjustified are not acceptable in terms of international rules-based law,” he said during a press conference Wednesday morning. Garneau said intense discussions are ongoing with high-level Chinese and American officials to fight for the release of the two men.
Watch the embedded interview with Ben Roswell, former diplomat and president of the Canadian International Council, on the impact Michael Spavor’s sentencing will have on Michael Kovrig and China’s political positioning with Canada.
Jeremy Kinsman and Larry Haas: the China-Canada hostage game ramps up
‘Not a coincidence’: China has tied fates of detained Canadians to Meng case, experts warn
(Global) China has made it increasingly clear the two detained Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — can expect their cases to move in lockstep with Meng’s case, according to experts.
(Comments by John Manley and Guy Saint-Jaques)
China Sentences Canadian Businessman to 11 Years in Prison
The prosecution of Michael Spavor has been widely seen as political retaliation by China against Canada for the detention of a Chinese technology executive.
By Chris Buckley, Dan Bilefsky and Tracy Sherlock
(NYT) Mr. Spavor’s imprisonment raises the pressure on the Canadian government and the Biden administration to negotiate with China over Ms. Meng. Canada has emphasized that it has the support of allies, and on Wednesday diplomats from more than two dozen countries gathered in a show of solidarity at the country’s embassy in Beijing. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada criticized the prosecution of both men. … President Biden has said he will seek to secure their release. But that could require the United States to drop or modify its case against Ms. Meng, so that she can return to China.
Canadian Michael Spavor sentenced to 11 years in prison, ordered deported by Chinese court
It’s not yet clear if Spavor will be deported before or after his 11 year prison sentence
Chinese court rejects Robert Schellenberg’s appeal against death penalty, as Michael Spavor awaits verdict
(Globe & Mail) Robert Schellenberg, who is facing the death penalty in China for drug trafficking, lost his appeal Tuesday and a second important verdict will be handed down by the country’s courts later this week.
The two verdicts, coming right before an expected federal election call in Canada, could make for a momentous week in Canada-China relations, which have sunk to their worst level since students were killed in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The Higher People’s Court of Liaoning Province said early Tuesday that Mr. Schellenberg’s appeal was unsuccessful, and it upheld the lower court’s sentence. The ruling will be reported to the Supreme People’s Court for approval, it said in a statement.
In its statement, the court said that Schellenberg was provided with interpreters, and that diplomats from the Canadian embassy in Beijing, as well as senior Chinese officials, were in attendance.
Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, said that he had spoken with Mr. Schellenberg and that he was “remarkably composed.”
“This is by no means done,” Mr. Barton said, adding that this trial is “part of a process, a geopolitical process,” and that it was “no coincidence that this is happening right now while events are ongoing in Vancouver” with the trial of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou [at which] lawyers in Canada [are making] a final push to prevent her from being extradited to the United States.

2-3 August
‘Hold on, please, we’re gonna get you home’: Michael Kovrig’s old punk band joins campaign for his release
Last month, Bankrupt released a new song to raise awareness of Mr. Kovrig’s plight, The Plane to Toronto, with all proceeds going to Hostage International, at the request of the Kovrig family.
Sept. 4 marks 1,000 days that the two men have been imprisoned, a grim milestone that supporters hoped they would never reach.
So far, negotiations have gotten nowhere. Ottawa – which denounces the men’s imprisonment as political and arbitrary – has refused to countenance a prisoner swap for Ms. Meng. Last month, during talks with U.S. deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman, a top Chinese official called on Washington to drop its extradition case against the Huawei executive.
No mention anywhere in Canadian media
Biden discusses Canadian citizens detained in China with Trudeau
(The Hill) The two leaders “discussed the two Canadian citizens — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — who are unjustly detained by the People’s Republic of China. The President condemned their arbitrary detention and reiterated his commitment to stand strong with Canada to secure their release,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
The Biden-Trudeau talk: build back whatever
Paul Wells: There was supposed to be a renewed Canada-U.S. relationship. The latest phone call between Biden and Trudeau suggests it is not going well.

23 July
Canada must move away from ‘diplomacy on autopilot’ with China: Former ambassador
(The Hub) Canada needs to stop conducting “diplomacy on autopilot” with China if it wants to join a burgeoning international effort to check the country’s ambitions, argued David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China.
Mulroney said there are many areas where it is still essential for Canada to partner with China, including the environment, food safety, global health, and the economy.

9-10 July
Vancouver judge’s decision over Huawei finance chief may deepen US-China row
Judge refuses to admit new evidence that might have helped Meng Wanzhou avoid extradition to US
(The Guardian) Meng’s lawyers had been hoping associate chief justice Heather Holmes, who has been overseeing the case in the British Columbia supreme court, would allow her to use at least some of the documents obtained from HSBC through a Hong Kong court hearing.
The lawyers believe the papers show she did not mislead HSBC senior executives over Huawei’s links to an Iranian firm. She is facing fraud charges in the US over allegedly misleading HSBC, and Huawei largely regards the case as part of a trade war instigated by Donald Trump.
Holmes will give her reasons at a later stage, but her ruling shows the extent to which Canadian law is reluctant to let the extradition hearing, due to start next month, turn into a substantive trial of whether she has misled HSBC.
Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou loses bid for key evidence in U.S. extradition battle
A B.C. judge has rejected Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s attempt to submit a trove of banking evidence in her legal battle against extradition to the United States on fraud charges.
As a result of Friday’s ruling, the Huawei Technologies chief financial officer will head into her final three weeks of extradition hearings next month without key documents her lawyers argued would “fatally” undermine the entire U.S. case against her.
Her lawyers argued last month that the HSBC documents prove the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case: that Meng lied to the bank about Huawei’s links to Skycom, a subsidiary operating in Iran. Defence counsel argued that allowing the evidence would prove U.S. misconduct and thereby invalidate its extradition request.

Diane Francis: Trudeau’s inability to stand against China is a stain on Canada
Canada’s global reputation has been badly damaged by Trudeau’s inappropriate kid-glove treatment of China. And so has Canada’s democracy
Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government sent millions of dollars to the People’s Republic of China — in the form of contracts and foreign aid — despite the fact that Beijing has been holding two Canadians hostage for more than two years and has threatened Canadians living in Canada for opposing the regime’s mistreatment of the Uighur people and its takeover of Hong Kong.

22 June
Canada leads international call urging China to allow UN access in Xinjiang region
The Canadian-led statement cited reports of torture, forced sterilization, sexual violence and forced separation of children from their parents by authorities.
More than 40 countries urged China on Tuesday to allow the UN human rights chief immediate access to Xinjiang region to look into reports that more than a million people have been unlawfully detained there, some subjected to torture or forced labor.
The joint statement on China was read out by Canadian Ambassador Leslie Norton on behalf of countries including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States to the UN Human Rights Council.
It decried a law imposed a year ago in Hong Kong against what China deems secession and terrorism. The first trials are due to begin this week of people arrested under the legislation.
“We continue to be deeply concerned about the deterioration of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong under the National Security Law and about the human rights situation in Tibet,” it said.
Beijing denies all allegations of abuse of Uyghurs and describes the camps as vocational training facilities to combat religious extremism.

12 June
China looms large in G7 talks, Trudeau-Biden dialogue
PM also raised the detention of Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig with U.S. president
(CBC) Trudeau and Biden spoke directly about the ongoing work to secure the release of the two men. There was also a further, broader discussion among all the G7 leaders about the ongoing detention and the international show of solidarity that accompanied their trials, said the Canadian official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

4-7 June
Dominic Barton in ‘regular contact’ with Huawei to find a way to free two Michaels, Garneau says
(Globe & Mail) Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, remains in “regular contact” with tech giant Huawei Technologies as he talks to Beijing and Washington to find a way to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor from Chinese jails, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau told MPs Monday.
Mr. Garneau, in an appearance before the House of Commons Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, shed new light on the apparent shuttle diplomacy role that Mr. Barton is playing as he tries to break a deadlock between the United States and China.
As The Globe and Mail first reported Monday, the Canadian envoy to China spent three weeks in Washington in early April holding talks with senior American officials aimed at facilitating the release of the two men, who have been locked up in Chinese prisons for 911 days.
Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong asked Mr. Garneau why Mr. Barton, whose job is normally to represent Canada to China, was dispatched to Washington, where Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, is posted.
Mr. Garneau said both envoys are playing key roles in talks, but he said Mr. Barton was sent to Washington because of his special expertise. “He is very knowledgeable about the situation with respect to Madam Meng Wanzhou as well of course … the situation in which the two Michaels find themselves.”
Deal-seeking effort might validate hostage-taking
If Canada is lobbying the U.S. to cut a deal for the release of Meng Wanzhou in the hope of winning release of the two Michaels, China may easily conclude that imprisoning them was the correct move.
Winnipeg Free Press editorial:
If Canada is in fact urging the U.S. to let Ms. Meng off lightly to win early release of the two Michaels, that is a success already for China’s hostage-taking tactics. By holding the two Canadians in prison for two and a half years, the Chinese authorities have seemingly compelled Canada to intercede on China’s behalf with the U.S. administration.
Globe editorial: For the two Michaels, the road out of China may go through Washington
As for the two Michaels, the bottom line is that their fates are in the hands of China, and China is watching for the next move from the U.S. They are on the cusp of either a prolonged imprisonment, or the beginning of the end of their nightmare.
Freeing the two Michaels without giving in to Beijing’s extortion is a riddle wrapped inside a puzzle. Ottawa can’t let China use kidnappings to influence this country’s foreign relations and justice system. Doing so would set a terrible precedent, while also endangering the citizens of other small and middle powers that Beijing wants to bully.
One possible resolution for the Meng case is a plea agreement the U.S. Justice Department reportedly floated late last year, but which apparently went nowhere. Mr. Barton is said to be trying to revive the deal or get a new one, which would let Huawei and Ms. Meng admit to some level of wrongdoing, pay a fine and put the affair to bed.
Canada held secret U.S. talks in bid to free Kovrig, Spavor jailed in China
(Globe & Mail) Three sources told The Globe and Mail that Ambassador Dominic Barton’s confidential mission to Washington involved discussions about a possible U.S. deferred prosecution agreement for Huawei Technologies Co. chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou that could lead to freedom for Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. …they stressed that Mr. Barton’s conversations involved a broader appeal for stronger U.S. action to put pressure on Beijing to release the two men from prison.
Mr. Barton met with officials from the White House National Security Council and the departments of Justice, State, Defence, Treasury and Commerce. He also held talks with Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to Washington, according to the three sources.
Ivison: Trudeau should change tack on the two Michaels and negotiate for their release
Kovrig and Spavor will not be released until there is a political solution. There is no shame in changing a strategy that is not working
Unless there is some secret plan in the works — which there may be, even if there hasn’t been one to this point — Canada will continue to rely on the good graces of U.S. President Joe Biden to try to persuade the Chinese to release the two Michaels. … later this month, Meng’s legal team will submit internal documents from HSBC that it hopes will demonstrate the U.S. government’s case is unreliable.
… It is a reasonable bet that Meng will be released by one court or another, in which case Canada has lost its leverage with China. Alternatively, the case will drag on for years and the Michaels will remain incarcerated.

18 May
What the UK can teach the world about engaging with China
The ‘new’ China is a globally assertive economic superpower. The UK could show the rest of the world a path towards sensible engagement.

29-30 March
Jeremy Kinsman comments: a Chinese diplomat trash-talks the PM
Chinese diplomat accuses Trudeau of making Canada ‘running dog of US’
Clash is latest between China and Canada in recent months over Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur minority
(The Guardian) A Chinese diplomat has dismissed Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau as a “boy” in a social media attack marking a new low in the fractured relationship between the two countries.
China and Canada have clashed repeatedly in recent months, and last week the two countries imposed sanctions on each other in a growing row over Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur minority. But on Sunday, Trudeau was singled out for insult by China’s consul general to Rio de Janeiro, Li Yang in a tweet blaming him for the diplomatic crisis.
The outburst came as Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and European Union escalated their criticism of the treatment of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. Last week, the group of nations imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses.
In response, China slapped retaliatory sanctions on Canadian opposition lawmaker Michael Chong, a staunch critic of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Chong later tweeted that he intended to “wear [the sanctions] as a badge of honour”.

27 March
Canada’s sanctions are sending China a ‘message,’ says Garneau
(CBC) The House hears from Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau on the messages Canada is sending after the federal government moved to sanction top Chinese and Russian officials. (starts at 9:05)

23 March
Garneau warns the world: doing business with China comes with risk of arbitrary arrests
Working with U.S. to apply pressure to China is central to strategy to free Kovrig, Spavor, says Garneau
(CBC) Earlier today, Canadian Michael Kovrig — who has been held in China for more than two years on espionage charges — appeared in a Chinese courtroom for his one-day trial. Fellow Canadian Michael Spavor had his one-day trial on Friday.
Garneau said that while no officials from Canada or any other country were permitted in the courtroom during the proceedings, the Canadian government has been told it will be able to visit the two men before the end of the month.
Canada’s envoy to Beijing summoned home for high-level talks as Western sanctions hit China
Two senior Canadian officials said Mr. Barton, who is currently under post-travel quarantine in Toronto, was brought home from Beijing for important strategic meetings concerning “sensitive issues” with China; they declined to discuss further details. Mr. Barton’s recall also allows for greater ease in conducting secure private conversations that are more difficult in Beijing where China’s spy agencies monitor diplomats.
(The Current/CBC radio) Peter Humphrey can relate to what Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are going through in China. The former journalist and corporate investigator was arrested along with his wife in Shanghai in 2013 for allegedly illegally acquiring information about a Chinese citizen. He speaks with guest host Rosemary Barton about his imprisonment there, and what might be in store for the two Canadians.
“…as much as we all care about Michael and Michael, OK, and as much as this case is about them, it’s also about something much bigger. It’s much bigger than one or two cases. Before Xi Jinping came to power at the end of 2012, China did not grab foreigners off the street and throw them in jail. But now nobody can consider themselves safe. He’s terrifying everybody around the world. And hundreds of foreigners, not just two or three, have been jailed while he has been in power on very strange and spurious charges. We only hear about a few of them, and some of them have even been given death sentences. I’ve had contact with the families of people who are on death row in China, and I really need to get together, you know, amongst democratic countries and face down this this abuse. You know, Xi Jinping is waging war against all segments of society. And he’s been waging war, in a sense, against all of us around the world as well in the drive for domination. So this is a much bigger issue than these two cases, I’m afraid.”
Jeremy Kinsman comments on Michael Kovrig to go on trial Monday (video)
China’s ‘coercive diplomacy’ threatens its relationships with the West, says Trudeau
Trudeau says his government and all Canadians are behind Spavor, Kovrig as they face ‘secret’ trials in China

18 March
Canadians to Stand Trial in China for Spying: What We Know
Secrecy and politics will likely hang over the cases involving two Canadian men, who have been held largely in isolation for more than two years.
(NYT) The start of Mr. Spavor’s trial, on Friday, coincides with the first meeting of senior American and Chinese officials since President Biden took office in January, amid tensions over technology, defense and other issues.
China maintains one of the most opaque legal systems in the world. Courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party, and convictions in high-profile cases are almost certain, especially those involving national security.
The trials will likely be shrouded in secrecy, with limited opportunities to examine evidence or hear rebuttals from the two men. The proceedings will likely be closed to the public and the news media.
Mr. Spavor’s family said in a statement on Thursday that Mr. Spavor had “very limited access” to defense lawyers during his time in detention.

22 March
Colin Robertson: Canada must sanction Chinese officials for their gross human-rights abuse of the Michaels
While the Michaels await their trials’ verdicts in Chinese jails, we need to act. We need to change the calculus by which China assesses its own best interest regarding Canada. We can start by applying teeth to the arbitrary detention declaration by enlisting first the Five Eyes allies – Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States – and then the rest of the 61 signatories.
Canada should apply the Magnitsky sanctions against those responsible for the human-rights abuses the two Michaels have endured. We apply them against citizens of Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Myanmar and Belarus, and we have just joined the U.S., European Union and Britain in applying them against Chinese officials for human-rights abuses against the Uyghurs.
We should also refuse to let family members of senior Chinese Communist Party members study in our countries. Education, especially in English-speaking countries, is highly valued by the Chinese. … As for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese athletes are training at Calgary’s excellent facilities. Former ambassador to China Guy St. Jacques has suggested we send them packing.

22-23 February
Beijing lashes out at Canada over Uighur genocide vote
(CBC) The Chinese government lashed out at Canada today after the House of Commons voted to declare that China is committing genocide against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in its western Xinjiang region.
MPs vote to label China’s persecution of Uighurs a genocide
266 MPs out of 338 vote in favour of motion; majority of cabinet absent from vote
A substantial majority of MPs — including most Liberals who participated — voted in favour of a Conservative motion that says China’s actions in its western Xinjiang region meet the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.
After Monday’s vote, Garneau issued a statement saying the federal government remains “deeply disturbed” by what he called “horrific reports of human rights violations” in Xinjiang, including the use of arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization.
Garneau called for an independent investigation of the allegations.

15 February
Canada creates coalition with allies to denounce arbitrary detentions amid fight to free Kovrig, Spavor
(CBC) Canada and a coalition of nearly 60 other countries offered vocal support Monday for a new international declaration denouncing state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for political purposes.
The new declaration was born out of a year of behind-the-scenes diplomacy, spearheaded by former foreign affairs minister François-Philippe Champagne, and was the result of a campaign to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who spent their 798th day in Chinese prisons on Monday.

1 January
#98 China’s Strategic Takeover of Canada | China Unscripted
China is playing the long game to influence and infiltrate Canada and Canadian society. From hostage diplomacy—the kidnapping of two Canadian citiznes Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, to the China military training with the Canadian military, to more subtle economic subversion by the China economy. And the Trudeau family, including current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has a big role to play. On this China Unscripted China podcast, Cleo Paskal from Chatham House and Foundation for Defense of Democracies joins us!

2020

Canada’s Pro-China Deep State
(China uncensored) A Pro-China deep state in Canada has been evolving for decades. It all ties into Canadian history that you probably don’t know about—how Canada got close to China and the Chinese Communist Party, and how that lead to the Chinese military being invited to military training drills in Canada, or pressure on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cave on the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou for the release of two Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor who have been imprisoned in China.

16 November
Beijing blasts Bob Rae after ambassador calls for UN to investigate genocide claims
(Yahoo!) The Chinese government is firing back at Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations for calling on the UN to investigate whether China’s persecution of ethnic Muslim Uighurs in its Xinjiang province is a genocide.

21 October
China unleashed ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy on Canada. It may have backfired
Ambassador Cong Peiwu’s remarks on the safety of 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong may have stiffened the Trudeau government’s stance, and emboldened China hawks
The contentious comments ‘make it far less likely that Canada will do China’s bidding’ said a former ambassador to Beijing
(SCMP) Canada’s foreign minister started last week by hailing the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties with China, and the importance of dialogue.
But by Thursday, Francois-Philippe Champagne was delivering a dressing down to Beijing’s ambassador, Cong Peiwu, for “unacceptable and disturbing” remarks about Canadians in Hong Kong, in which Cong accused Canada of encouraging “violent criminals” by reportedly granting refugee status to Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
“So if the Canadian side really cares about the stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, and really cares about the good health and safety of those 300,000 Canadian passport holders in Hong Kong, and the large number of Canadian companies operating in Hong Kong SAR, you should support those efforts to fight violent crimes.”
Asked to clarify if this was a threat, he said “that is your interpretation”.

16 October
China ambassador makes veiled threat to Hong Kong-based Canadians
Beijing’s ambassador warns Ottawa not to give asylum to Hong Kong ‘criminals’ amid diplomatic spat over crackdown in territory and Huawei case
(The Guardian) China’s ambassador to Canada has appeared to threaten Hong Kong-based Canadians if Ottawa offers asylum to protesters from the territory.
Cong Peiwu made the comments at a news conference on Thursday where he also accused Canada of being an “accomplice” to the US in detaining Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou.
Canada is among several countries that suspended extradition agreements with Hong Kong in response to Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law in June. Dozens of MPs recently called for Canada to offer “safe harbour” to pro-democracy protesters fleeing Hong Kong, prompting the warning from Cong.

10-13 October
Trudeau vows to stand up to China’s ‘coercive diplomacy’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada intends to work with allies to challenge the Chinese government’s “coercive diplomacy,” and warned that its use of arbitrary arrests, repression in Hong Kong and detention camps for Muslim minorities is “not a particularly productive path.”
In marking the 50th anniversary of relations between Canada and the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Trudeau spoke more strongly than ever before about Beijing’s increasingly repressive and aggressive actions at home and abroad.
… The Prime Minster, who has been hesitant to publicly criticize China, called attention to the arrests of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the crackdown on civil rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong, as well as the treatment of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, where more than one million are being held in so-called re-education camps.

China denies two Canadians were ‘arbitrarily’ detained
(AP via CTV) China on Monday denied that two Canadian citizens held for almost two years had been “arbitrarily” detained in response to Canada’s arrest of an executive of technology giant Huawei.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s denial came days after China granted consular access to Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor for the first time since January. Canada’s government on Saturday issued a statement saying it remains “deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities” of the two, and called for their immediate release.
Zhao said China “firmly opposes the erroneous statements made by Canada” and reiterated its claim that Kovrig and Spavor were “suspected of engaging in activities that endanger China’s national security.”
Detained Canadians in China get rare consular access

22 September
Colin Robertson: Parliament should bring back the Canada-China special committee
When the new session begins, Parliamentarians will focus on COVID recovery, but they also need to pay attention to our critical relationship with China. MPs should re-establish the special committee on Canada-China relations that was created in the last session. We need continuing parliamentary oversight of this vital, complex and challenging relationship.
Created last December on a Conservative motion with Bloc Québécois, NDP and Green support, the committee held 12 meetings and the testimony of their 48 witnesses was informative.
The Deputy Minister of Global Affairs Canada, Marta Morgan, affirmed that Canada’s “absolute priority” with China is freeing Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, detained since December, 2018, and securing clemency for Robert Schellenberg. A thousand diplomatic meetings later, the U.S. has been the most supportive. But only 13 other friends and allies have voiced public support. Where are the others? Mr. Kovrig’s wife, Vina Nadjibulla, is right when she says that “words are no longer enough.”
Our China policy, said [Deputy Minister of Global Affairs Canada, Marta] Morgan, is one of “comprehensive engagement.” But since December, 2018, only International Trade Minister Mary Ng has visited China. Now Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne acknowledges there is no prospect of freer trade.
Our current policy is neither comprehensive nor engaged. Parliament needs to weigh in. A special committee will help keep focus on our China relationship and, hopefully, come up with a strategy enjoying broad party support.

26 August
Foreign Affairs Minister Champagne optimistic consular services for Kovrig and Spavor can be restored
Mr. Champagne said he reminded Mr. Wang, who has been China’s Foreign Minister since 2013, that the denial of consular services for Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig is a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. “We obviously had a number of things where we disagreed profoundly, but to the extent that we can talk, I think it’s a sign of progress,” Mr. Champagne said. “This has been key to our discussions – to make sure the detainees have access to their loved ones.”

6 August
Time for Liberal government to give up ‘fiction’ that China is our friend, ex-diplomat warns MPs
Canada’s former ambassador to China David Mulroney told a parliamentary committee meeting on Thursday that it’s time for a change in Canada’s approach to the country, a change he doesn’t believe the Liberal government is yet willing to make.
Mulroney argued for Canada to stand with allies to pressure China together. He said China can punish one country economically, but can’t do that to a coalition of countries standing together.
“The reality is that Canada has what China needs,” he said. “China needs the products that Canada, Australia and the United States produce.”
MPs also heard warnings about China’s motives in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

30 June
Mulroney urges ‘immediate and urgent rethink’ of relations with China
Brian Mulroney said the Prime Minister should strike a blue-ribbon panel of experts to reshape Canada’s policy toward China.
Brian Mulroney is calling for “an immediate and urgent rethink” of Canada-China relations and is praising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for rejecting domestic demands to free senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in exchange for the release of two imprisoned Canadians.
The former Progressive Conservative prime minister also told The Globe and Mail that Canada should bar Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s gear from this country’s next-generation 5G mobile networks if it would jeopardize intelligence sharing with Canada’s Five Eyes alliance.
[He] said China has become an aggressive global player and a real threat to Canada and its Western allies. The long-held Canadian government policy that China would evolve into a constructive partner in international relations as its economy and national wealth expanded no longer holds true, Mr. Mulroney said, pointing to Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea – one of the world’s crucial shipping lanes.

23-25 June
Inside the Canadian establishment’s fight with Trudeau over China
How a letter from a superbly-connected group of Canadians happened and aimed to pressure the Prime Minister into releasing Meng Wanzhou
By Paul Wells and Marie-Danielle Smith
( Maclean’s) Speaking with uncharacteristic clarity and force, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday flatly rejected growing pressure on his government to arrange the release of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in hopes of securing the release of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, currently jailed in China.
“If the Chinese government concludes that [detaining Spavor and Kovrig] is an effective way to gain leverage over Canadians and over the Canadian government, to randomly arrest Canadians, then no Canadian will be safe,” Trudeau said. Any regime anywhere would be likelier to start arresting “random Canadians” to press diplomatic goals, he said.
Trudeau’s remarks followed three astonishing days during which a growing list of prominent Canadians, from Kovrig’s wife to legal experts to three former foreign-affairs ministers, urged Trudeau to have Justice Minister David Lametti use his lawful authority to end Meng’s extradition process—thus trading her liberty for that of Kovrig and Spavor.
The full-court press to organize what would have amounted to a prisoner exchange, and the Prime Minister’s forceful denial, illustrate a growing rift between Trudeau and an amorphous, superbly-connected Canadian establishment that usually expects Liberal prime ministers to follow its advice.
The week’s events began on Monday, when Kovrig’s wife Vina Nadjibulla told the CBC the government wasn’t doing enough to free her husband, who has been detained in harsh conditions since December 2018. Significantly, Nadjibulla called on Trudeau, not merely to keep up diplomatic pressure, but to have Lametti halt Meng’s extradition to the United States on charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. “The minister of justice can act,” she said.
…the campaign took off on Wednesday with the publication of a letter to Trudeau signed by 19 former politicians, diplomats and an ex-journalist and making the same argument Nadjibulla, Greenspan, Arbour and Rock had made. The letter was signed by prominent former Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and non-partisans. Signatories included former foreign ministers André Ouellet and Lloyd Axworthy, both Liberals who worked under Jean Chrétien, and Lawrence Cannon, a Conservative in Stephen Harper’s government. The list also included longtime NDP leader Ed Broadbent, several former foreign-policy advisors to Chrétien, former Quebec premier Jean Charest, and the retired veteran CBC journalist Don Newman.
… People from such genteel precincts rarely line up against a Liberal prime minister on a sensitive diplomatic controversy. That these luminaries chose to do so is an indication of the stakes. Kovrig and Spavor have been jailed in cells where the lights never go off for a year and a half. There is no end to their captivity in sight, and on June 19 the two were formally charged with spying. China-Canada diplomacy on other files has essentially ground to a halt. But the Trudeau government is also reluctant to antagonize China on any file for fear conflict would endanger the two Canadian prisoners.
A source familiar with the letter told Maclean’s that in November 2019 several prominent Canadians, including Rock and former Conservative Foreign Minister John Baird, travelled to China for meetings with Chinese officials. During informal discussions on the sidelines, the visiting Canadians were given to understand that if Meng were released for any reason, the two Michaels would also promptly be freed.
In January, Canada’s ambassador to China Dominic Barton asked Arbour and Rock to “brainstorm” on possible political and legal solutions. Barton has taken the detention of Spavor and Kovrig extremely seriously, undertaking consular visits to them personally, when permitted, instead of sending more junior embassy officials.
In February Arbour and Rock sent Barton a memo outlining options for breaking the deadlock. It repeated an argument several proponents of a more conciliatory approach, including Jean Chrétien, had made for months: that Lametti, in his capacity as justice minister, has discretion to end extradition proceedings, and could thus arrange the prompt liberation of Meng and the two Michaels. Barton sent the memo up the line to senior Trudeau government officials, with no apparent effect.
Justin Trudeau says he can’t give in to China’s hostage-taking. He’s right
(Globe & Mail editorial board) Mr. Trudeau and his government have been put in a terrible position by Beijing, one that Beijing made far worse this week when a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman made the hostage-taking explicit, saying the two Michaels would be freed if Ottawa dropped the case against Ms. Meng.
Until now, China declined to publicly link the cases, and only hinted at a connection. But what might look like a moment of honesty has instead deepened the crisis.
Where once Ottawa might have been able to consider ending Ms. Meng’s extradition case in the national interest, in the hopes that China would respond in kind, Beijing’s admission that her fate and that of the two Michaels are linked has made doing so a moral impossibility.

19 – 20 June
Jeremy Kinsman on the case of ‘the two Michaels‘ —
The China-Canada hostage showdown – time to face up to what “everybody knows”.
Time to move on this unnecessary sideshow to the US-China mega drama to which two Canadians are tragic roadkill.
Evening Brief: The ‘two Michaels’ charged by China
(iPolitics) Reports broke early Friday morning that Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor had been charged in China with providing intelligence to “outside entities” and “spying on national secrets.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly referred to China’s detention of the two Michaels as being “arbitrary.”
Trudeau provided no details on plans to secure their release on Friday, despite saying his government is using a variety of “public and private measures” to ensure they’re set free. Trudeau did not bring up the latest developments in the case of the two Michaels at his daily press briefing on Friday until he was pressed by reporters.
When asked whether his government would take stronger actions to bring the men home, Trudeau said the Canadian government has developed a certain expertise in what works to bring Canadians who find themselves in consular challenges overseas home. He declined to answer a question on whether he considered the two Michaels to be hostages.
China charges Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor with espionage
Nathan VanderKlippe
(Globe & Mail) After 557 days of interrogation and incarceration in facilities where the lights are kept on day and night, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been formally charged by Chinese authorities, accused of espionage – a crime punishable by life in prison.
The charges against the two Canadians, which carry a minimum sentence of 10 years, represent the formal commencement of judicial proceedings against them in a justice system with a conviction rate of more than 99 per cent.
Mr. Kovrig was charged with spying on national secrets and intelligence for entities outside the territory of China. Mr. Spavor was charged with spying on national secrets and illegally providing state secrets to entities outside the territory of China.
Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor were both arrested Dec. 10, 2018, just days after the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. China has called the case against Ms. Meng a political prosecution and has repeatedly demanded her release from Canada, where she has been out on bail and living in her two multimillion-dollar Vancouver homes.

18 June
Canada has an unused card up its sleeve against China: our immigration system
Robert Falconer and Ai-Men Lau
…there is a compelling case to be made for a renewed Canadian foreign policy that considers the role immigration and refugee status plays in our national security and response to foreign competitors. As the People’s Republic seeks to impose its will on Hong Kong, an open refugee policy is one that permits Hong Kongers to vote with their feet between an oppressive China or an open Canada.
The decision to welcome Hong Kongers as part of a robust foreign policy is not without precedent.

2019

3 December
Canada-China Relations Since Meng Wanzhou’s Arrest
2019 has been a particularly challenging year for Canada-China relations. In fact, it has been a few complicated years. The bilateral buzz was high for the Liberal government when it was elected in October 2015, but the prospect of a new ‘golden era’ in Canada-China relations was short-lived. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping since 2012, the Chinese government has tightened social and political controls internally and has become more assertive globally. [1] And despite reassuring speeches about globalization in international forums, China’s “neo-totalitarian turn” (or “authoritarian moment”, it all depends) hasn’t boded well for Canada. As one prominent Canadian scholar put it: “We must wake up from our Western dream for China.” This first hit home in December 2017 when Beijing refused to include labour, gender, and environmental rights and protection into a potential free trade agreement with Canada. But it was Beijing’s terse response to Canada’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on a judicial extradition request from the United States on December 1, 2018 that led to a diplomatic brawl that has seriously derailed the bilateral relationship and plunged it to historic lows.
The details of Beijing’s retaliatory measures are well known and have been widely covered in the media: among other things, two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, have been detained in China on spurious charges since last December, and crippling embargoes have been applied to various Canadian agricultural exports. With its newly appointed Foreign Minister, Francois-Philippe Champagne, and recently assigned Ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, the Canadian government now hopes to solve the impasse with China, which, many have argued, will represent Canada’s most critical foreign policy challenge for years to come. But if experts agree that the Canadian government needs to readjust its approach on China, they disagree on how the government should proceed.

4 September
Prime Minister announces appointment of Dominic Barton as Ambassador to China
(Government of Canada) “I am pleased to announce Dominic Barton as Canada’s Ambassador to China. His years of experience in Asia, and the significant global economics expertise he has acquired over an impressive career, will make him a great choice to represent Canada – and Canadian interests – in China.”
Dominic Barton, Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China Biography

One Comment on "Canada – China 2019-2021"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson June 9, 2021 at 6:07 am · Reply

    Comments from two (retired) Canadian ambassadors:
    “Peeling away the layer of almost sanctimonious dross, the core of the Globe editorial is to persuade the US to persuade China to have Mme Meng and Huawei admit wrongdoing and pay a fine. The US would be happy, the Michaels and Mme Meng would be released, bilateral relations would spring back, Canadian honour would be satisfied – and China would retreat with its tail between its legs. For anyone who believes that, I have this nice bridge…”
    “What this means is that Ottawa finally gets there is only one essential pre-condition to the two Michaels being freed and that is ending the prior detention of meng Wanzhou.
    It also reflects that from the start, Ottawa has placed top priority on mitigating our vulnerability to the US. It was in deference to it that we got into the fiasco of grabbing Mrs Meng on US behalf in the first place.
    It’s more than Barton’s Mckinsey connections. He has more impressive credentials – major business stature, many years in China. As one who believes we made a grotesque mistake in grabbing Meng for the US, whose case against her is concocted, part and parcel of the Huawei and Iran obsessions, unilateral, and extraterritorial, and should never have been prosecuted in Court by the Canadian justice lawyers, I’m glad Barton is involved. But I’d be a lot more glad if Trudeau would tell Biden he’s giving the US a chance to fix the Meng thing before we let her go unilaterally ourselves. But he doesn’t have the guts.
    … Huawei’s biggest “crime” is that it has built an IPhone that is out-selling Apple, and is way ahead on 5G.
    It’s absurd. Has been from Day One. We look ridiculous.”

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