Canada says China has detained 13 Canadian citizens since Huawei exec’s arrest in Vancouver
- So far detention of only three Canadian citizens had been publicly disclosed
- Tensions between Canada and China have risen since Meng Wanzhou’s arrest
- Beijing said on Friday it will ‘protect the rights’ of the Canadians held in China
Canada said on Thursday that 13 of its citizens have been detained in China since Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested last month in Vancouver at the request of the United States.
‘At least’ eight of those 13 have since been released, a Canadian government statement said, without disclosing what charges if any have been laid.
Prior to Thursday’s statement, detention of only three Canadian citizens had been publicly disclosed. Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have escalated since Meng’s arrest on December 1.
During a press conference held by the State Council Information Office on Friday, vice-minister of justice Liu Zhenyu said Beijing is following the rule of law and protecting the rights of the 13 Canadians reported to be held.
Liu stressed that China is a country under the rule of law and will protect the interests of the parties concerned during the process.
The Canadian government has said several times it sees no explicit link between the arrest of Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, and the detentions of Canadian citizens. But Beijing-based Western diplomats and former Canadian diplomats have said they believe the detentions were a ‘tit-for-tat’ reprisal by China.
Meng was released on a C$10 million (£5.8million) bail on December 11 and is now living in one of her two multi-million-dollar Vancouver homes as she fights extradition to the United States.
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, arrives at a parole office (left) with a security guard in Vancouver. Canada said on Thursday that 13 of its citizens have been detained in China since Meng Wanzhou was arrested last month in Vancouver
The 46-year-old executive must wear an ankle monitor and stay at home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Washington has accused her of fraud for helping evade US sanctions against Iran.
The 13 Canadians detained include Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor and Sarah McIver, a Canadian government official who declined to be identified, said on Thursday.
McIver, a teacher, has since been released and returned to Canada. Kovrig, who works for the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, who is frequently consulted on matters linked to North Korea, remain in custody for activities said to threaten national security. Canadian consular officials saw them once each in mid-December.
Overall, there are about 200 Canadians who have been detained in China for a variety of alleged infractions who continue to face on-going legal proceedings. ‘This number has remained relatively stable,’ the official said.
By way of comparison, there are almost 900 Canadians in a similar situation in the US.
In comparison, there are almost 900 Canadians in a similar situation in the United States, the official added.