The United States and Canada on Sunday both called on Beijing to immediately release the two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been detained in China for 1,000 days in what many countries are labeling as “hostage politics.”
The arrests of the two Canadians have widely been seen as retaliation against Canada for the arrest of Meng—a Chinese national who is chief financial officer for Huawei and daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei.
Both Kovrig and Spavor have since been convicted of spying in closed Chinese courts—a process condemned by Canada and dozens of allies, including the United States.
“Today marks the 1,000th day of the arbitrary detention of Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig by the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Sunday. “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Canada and the international community in calling for the PRC to release, immediately and unconditionally, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.”
Blinken added: “The practice of arbitrarily detaining individuals to exercise leverage over foreign governments is completely unacceptable. People should never be used as bargaining chips.”
People are not bargaining chips. Today, on Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig’s 1,000th day of arbitrary detention by the People’s Republic of China, we stand with our Canadian allies at @CanadaFP in calling for their immediate and unconditional release.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 6, 2021
The arrest of Meng infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise. Meng is accused of misleading HSBC bankers about Huawei’s business dealings with Iran-based company Skycom Tech Co. Ltd.—a move that put HSBC at risk of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. Both Meng and Huawei have denied the charges.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau, in a statement on Sunday, said he and the country “strongly condemn the lack of a transparent legal process.”
“Both men are being arbitrarily detained,” said Garneau. “Years have been cruelly stolen from both men and their families. Despite this, they have shown integrity and courage throughout this terrible ordeal.”
He added: “Arbitrarily detaining foreign citizens is unjust and immoral. Sixty-six countries endorsed the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations earlier this year and call for an end to this practice and for the release of all individuals detained for diplomatic leverage.”
— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) September 5, 2021
Spavor’s and Kovrig’s relatives and supporters are pushing for some sort of political resolution that could bring them home.
They staged a march in Ottawa on Sunday seeking to replicate the 7,000 steps that Kovrig has tried to walk every day in his cramped jail cell to maintain his physical and mental well-being.
“It’s an extremely difficult milestone, but one that we want to mark in this way, in part, to honor the strength and resilience that Michael and Michael Spavor have shown,″ Kovrig’s former wife, Vina Nadjibulla, said.
On Aug. 11, a Chinese court sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison. Kovrig’s trial was conducted in March. It isn’t clear when he will be sentenced.
Beijing has rejected the suggestion that the cases of the Canadians in China being influenced in response to Meng’s case in Canada, although it has warned of unspecified consequences unless Meng is released.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times