Canada’s tourism minister cancels China trip amid Huawei tensions
China’s arrest of two Canadians is unacceptable and an example of worrying fallout from a U.S.-China trade war, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
Trudeau addressed the Chinese capture of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in a television interview Friday morning. Those arrests came nine days after Canada, acting on a request from the U.S., detained a Huawei Technologies Co. executive, Meng Wanzhou.
“China is reacting to the arrest of one of their citizens but we are being absolutely clear on standing up for our citizens who’ve been detained, trying to figure out why, trying to work with China to demonstrate this is not acceptable,” Trudeau told CityTV.
The prime minister’s comments on the Chinese arrests come as officials in Beijing vent frustration over Canada’s role in the Huawei executive’s case. “This action has aroused public anger in China,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a briefing Friday.
Trudeau reiterated that Canada’s courts are independent and that he cannot interfere in Meng’s case, despite Chinese outrage and demands for her release. She is free on bail in Vancouver, facing an extradition hearing to the U.S. That process could take years to play out.
‘Picking a Fight’
“This is one of the situations you get in when the two largest economies in the world, China and the United States, start picking a fight with each other,” Trudeau said.“The escalating trade war between them is going to have all sorts of unintended consequences on Canada, potentially on the entire global economy. We’re very worried about that.”
Trudeau’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, will meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Friday.
China arrested Kovrig and Spavor on Monday, but information was slow to trickle out. As of Wednesday, Canadian authorities had been notified, by fax, only of Kovrig’s arrest. Spavor’s status wasn’t confirmed until Thursday. China has said both are facing investigations related to national security, but Canada has not yet indicated that its consular officials have been able to visit either man.
Kovrig is a Canadian diplomat on leave from his job to work with the International Crisis Group. Spavor is a North Korean fixer who has met with Kim Jong Un, and who ran tours in North Korea, for clients including U.S. basketball icon Dennis Rodman.
Tourism Minister Melanie Joly had been scheduled to travel to China from Dec. 17 to 20. Her office announced Friday that had been postponed by mutual agreement. “Both governments agreed this would allow us to better achieve our shared objectives,” the statement said.