Canada Frees Detained Citizens From China

The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has announced the release of two Canadian citizens who were arrested in China on December 10th, 2018. The two men Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor will be freed after being held for over three months without charge. The announcement came following a meeting between Trudeau and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang during the G20 summit this week.

Canada frees detained citizens from China, while tensions remain

(Ottawa, ON) The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has announced the release of two Canadian citizens who were arrested in China on December 10th, 2018. The two men Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor will be freed after being held for over three months without charge. The announcement came following a meeting between Trudeau and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang during the G20 summit this week.

The release of the two detainees comes after over a month of turbulence in Canada–China relations, including Trudeau’s December 3rd meeting with U.S-based Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Xi Jingping’s government refusal to allow Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to leave China.

Trudeau was quoted as saying, “China has chosen to release them — it’s a process that continues and we’ll continue to be engaged at the highest levels.” It is currently unclear whether charges will be laid against either man in the future.

The government did not state which charges Kovrig and Spavor were facing but did release statements saying that they will be monitored. Kovrig is a former diplomat and was working for the International Crisis Group which had their Beijing office closed last year. Spavor runs Paektu Cultural Exchange, an organization that facilitates tourism between China and North Korea.

Since President Xi Jinping took power of the People’s Republic of China in 2012, there have been over ten Canadians that have been detained on dubious charges. The Chinese government has repeatedly not provided standards for Canadian consular staff to ensure the safety of the detainees. For example, Huseyin Celil, a Uighur-Canadian who was arrested in Uzbekistan and extradited to China by the Uzbek government, was sentenced to life in prison for terrorism. The Canadian government was not given access to Celil until he had been imprisoned for over two years despite their requests.

Huang Qi, founder of human rights website 64 Tianwang was arrested at his home on November 23rd by the Chinese authorities during their crackdown on non-profits operating without government consent in China. Huang was involved in the case of Yang Zhen, an 81-year old who died due to lack of assistance from hospital staff when his home was torn down without prior warning. The Canadian consulate in China has no information on the charges levied against Huang Qi and is concerned for his well-being.