Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Now Is Not the Time for Trudeau to Call Chinese President, Says Ambassador

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Now Is Not the Time for Trudeau to Call Chinese President, Says Ambassador

Article excerpt

Ambassador briefs MPs on Canada-China ties


OTTAWA - Diplomacy needs more time before the prime minister tries personally to settle the fight between Ottawa and Beijing that has left two Canadians detained in China and another facing the death penalty, Canada's ambassador to China said Friday after appearing at a Commons committee.

"The prime minister calling the (Chinese) president is essentially the last arrow in our quiver," McCallum said after testifying behind closed doors to the standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade. "I think other actions have to be taken first."

The Opposition Conservatives have been insisting that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau call President Xi Jinping to resolve the diplomatic dispute that began with the arrest in Vancouver last month of a senior executive from Chinese tech giant Huawei.

China escalated tensions shortly after Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou's arrest -- which was carried out at the request of U.S. authorities who want her extradited to face fraud charges -- by detaining Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and entrepreneur Michael Spavor on vague allegations of endangering China's national security.

Since then, Canada and China have traded accusations of making "politically motivated" arrests and questioning each other's judicial processes.

The two countries have also issued travel advisories, warning their respective citizens about the potential dangers of "arbitrary" detentions.

China also recently revisited a 15-year prison sentenced issued in 2016 against Robert Schellenberg of British Columbia for drug smuggling, imposing a death sentence instead.

Western analysts have deemed the arrests of Spavor and Kovrig, and the harsher sentencing of Schellenberg, to be attempts by Beijing to pressure Canada to release Meng, whose company has been accused of being an agent of Chinese intelligence.

Before the protracted dispute worsens, the prime minister needs to step in, Conservative MP Erin O'Toole repeated Friday. …

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