US State Department Renews China Traveling Advisory Over Raised Diplomatic Tensions

07 January, 2019, 07:56 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • China insists detained Canadians ‘without a doubt’ broke security laws

This is the highest level Canadian delegation to visit China since Michael Kovrig, a diplomat on leave from Global Affairs employed by the International Crisis Group in Beijing, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who organized trips to North Korea, were arrested on December 10.

"US-Chinese citizens and US citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and China may prevent the US Embassy from providing consular services".

"We have said here that these two Canadian citizens are under investigation in accordance with law for engaging in activities that undermine China's national security", said the prosecutor, Zhang Jun, at a briefing in Beijing.

From January to November 2018, 2.3 million people traveled from the United States to China, said the spokesperson, adding that this meant 70 out of every 10,000 Americans visited China.

Some observers believe the detentions of Kovrig, who works for the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, who is frequently consulted on matters linked to North Korea, were retaliatory actions following the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who faces extradition to the United States.

Meng faces extradition to the U.S. to face fraud charges, which she denies, linked to allegations of avoiding the USA sanctions on Iran.

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Chinese government officials are saying it's not "convenient" to discuss the alleged national security threats - this while the Huawei CFO is treated like royalty here in comparison. Canada is now conducting a cybersecurity review of Huawei and 5G technology, but hasn't made a decision on whether to ban the company from its 5G networks.

December 6: China demands Canada release Meng and "immediately correct the mistake" officials made in arresting her.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly called on China to release the men. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also called for their release, and the UK, EU, Australia, France, and Germany have all issued statements voicing concern over the detentions.

China touts the rule of law, but its judicial system is tightly controlled by the ruling Communist Party. They could also face "prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to "state security".

Rights groups say conditions in Chinese detention facilities are often basic and can be harsh, with lack of legal representation and due process compounding worries about treatment.

"He's not allowed to apply for bail and not allowed to see a lawyer", one source told Reuters, adding Kovrig was being held at an undisclosed location, questioned every morning, afternoon, and evening and not allowed to turn the lights off at night. She declines to comment on suggestions from analysts and former diplomats that China will likely retaliate by jailing Canadians.

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