Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said he is "disappointed" in China's decision to formally lay charges against Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians who have been detained for well over a year, on allegations of espionage.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested in late 2018 on state security charges, soon after Canadian police detained Huawei Technologies Co's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on a us warrant.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested in late 2018 on state security charges, soon after Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Technologies Co's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Vancouver on a USA warrant.
The two were held in China in 2018 after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, at the request of the United States. The daughter of Huawei's founder was arrested December 1 at the request of USA authorities who want her on fraud charges.
In a statement posted to China's Weibo social media platform, the People's Procuratorate of Dandong City said the charges resulted from an "examination based on the law".
China has denied any explicit link between her case and the lengthy detention of the two Canadian men, but outside experts see them as tied and Chinese diplomats have strongly implied a connection.
Beijing is demanding the unconditional release of Meng.
Michael Kovrig in a video image from March 2018.
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Shortly after her arrest, Chinese authorities, in an apparent retaliation, detained the two Canadians living in China and accused them of espionage.
Meng's case now continues to a second phase, yet to be scheduled, when the defence will challenge the lawfulness of her arrest, followed by more hearings likely in September.
China has charged two Canadian nationals with espionage in a move Canada maintains is retaliation for the arrest in Vancouver, British Columbia, of a top Chinese business executive on a US extradition warrant.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the government's "naive approach to Beijing" has hampered efforts to release Spavor and Kovrig.
Late last month, a BC Supreme Court judge ruled that Wanzhou must stay in Canada and keep fighting the USA extradition order. The belated initiation of legal due process by China comes after the Huawei exec lost her first battle against extradition from Canada to the US.
The tensions between Canada and China have spilled over into trade between the two countries as China suspended imports of Canadian canola.
Huawei is the world's biggest supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, but has always been seen as a front for spying by China's military and its highly skilled security services.
The Liberals have yet to decide whether Huawei will have a role in building the network. It also says Huawei's equipment represents a security risk to the west and is urging other nations not to purchase Huawei's 5G technology.