China Draws International Condemnation Over Hefty Sentence Against Canadian Michael Spavor

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
August 12, 2021China News
China Draws International Condemnation Over Hefty Sentence Against Canadian Michael Spavor
Jim Nickel, the deputy chief of mission for the Canadian Embassy in China, speaks at an event held in connection with the announcement of the sentence for Canadian citizen Michael Spavor at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. A Chinese court has sentenced Canadian Michael Spavor to 11 years on spying charges in case linked to Huawei. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The United States and the international community issued a slew of statements in a growing chorus of condemnation over China’s hefty sentencing of Canadian businessman Michael Spavor.

Spavor’s sentence of 11 years in prison dealt by a Chinese court on Wednesday was immediately condemned by Canada, as well as by representatives from the United States and 24 other governments, who attended a news conference at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing in a show of solidarity.

China Canada
Jim Nickel, front row center, the deputy chief of mission for the Canadian Embassy in China, and diplomatic representatives from more than two dozen other countries pose for a group photo at an event held in connection with the announcement of the sentence for Canadian citizen Michael Spavor at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, on Aug. 11, 2021. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately condemned Spavor’s sentencing, in a statement calling the verdict “absolutely unacceptable and unjust.”

Further statements were later released by officials around the world denouncing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) actions, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on the CCP to release Spavor and another Canadian, Michael Kovrig, “immediately and unconditionally.”

“We continue to condemn these arbitrary detentions as well as the sentence imposed against Mr. Spavor,” Blinken said in a statement Wednesday, adding: “The practice of arbitrarily detaining individuals to exercise leverage over foreign governments is completely unacceptable. People should never be used as bargaining chips.”

Spavor and Kovrig were arrested in China in December 2018 and were later charged with espionage. Their arrest came days after Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S. extradition warrant.

NTD Photo
(L) Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Cultural Exchange, talks during a Skype interview in Yanji, China, on March 2, 2017. (R) Michael Kovrig, an adviser with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based non-governmental organization, speaks during an interview in Hong Kong on March 28, 2018. (AP Photo)

Meng is accused of being involved in a scheme to use the global banking system to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran. The two Michaels’ detentions were widely seen as a tit-for-tat response by the CCP over her arrest.

Other U.S. officials also raised their voices against Spavor’s verdict, with Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee calling the sentencing a “clear political move” and “despicable.”

“No internationally respected government arbitrarily detains foreign nationals,” he added, demanding the release of Spavor and Kovrig.

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Foreign Subcommittee on Asia, condemned the CCP’s sentencing of Spavor and called on the CCP to “cease its use of hostage diplomacy.”

Trudeau and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in statements that they discussed Spavor’s sentencing and agreed to work together against arbitrary detention. They both also condemned the death sentence given to Robert Schellenberg that was recently upheld by a Chinese court.

justin trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Montreal, Quebec, on July 15, 2021. (Andrej Ivanov/AFP via Getty Images)

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canada in a statement accused Canada of “ganging up” with other western countries to “put pressure on China,” efforts it called “totally in vain.”

Meanwhile, Melita Gabric, ambassador for the European Union to Canada, said in a statement that the EU urges China to “respect its international legal obligations.”

“Arbitrary detentions violate #humanrights and the independence of the judiciary,” she said, adding that the EU has “stood shoulder to shoulder with Canada” in efforts to secure Spavor and Kovrig’s release.

The British high commissioner to Canada expressed solidarity with Canada in a brief statement.

Separately, the German Foreign Office issued a statement in a similar fashion. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said that Spavor’s rights were “restricted in breach of international law,” and further noted that his trial was “held behind closed doors.”

Spavor was charged in China with espionage in June 2019. A one-day trial was concluded in March and the Chinese court waited until Wednesday to announce its verdict.

The sentence came within a day of lawyers for Canada’s attorney general arguing in a Canadian court against a request to delay the extradition of Meng to the United States to face criminal charges.

France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said in a statement it was “dismayed” to learn about Spavor’s sentencing and Schellenberg’s upheld death sentence and said it “strongly denounce[s] the arbitrary nature of these verdicts.”

Meanwhile, Annika Ben David, Sweden’s ambassador-at-large for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, called to restore the human rights of Spavor and Schellenberg. “[Human rights] obligations must be ensured, including the right to a fair trial [and] the right to life,” she said in a statement.

Down under, both Australia and New Zealand condemned the latest situation concerning Spavor and Schellenberg.

“We call for due process and transparency and oppose the death penalty in all circumstances,” the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.

“Aotearoa of New Zealand shares Canada’s deep concerns and continues to follow this and similar cases closely. We call for international law and norms to be respected, including human rights and the Vienna Conventions,” a statement reads from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Frank Fang and Melanie Sun contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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