Justin Trudeau has hit out at China for using “pressure tactics” in trying to secure the release of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.
The Canadian Prime Minister has said that Beijing is “using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals” after they detained Canadian nationals Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
Their detention came just days after Meng was arrested at the request of US authorities, and Trudeau told the Toronto Star that the arrest of the duo, who are facing espionage charges, was “unacceptable”.
Their arrests have been widely viewed as an attempt to release Meng in exchange, further straining the relationship between the two countries.
Trudeau told the newspaper that “using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals – international or domestic – is something that is of concern not just to Canada but to all our allies who have been highlighting that this is not acceptable behaviour in the international community because they are all worried about China engaging in the same kinds of pressure tactics with them.”
The Prime Minister added that Canada needed to find a way to constructively engage with the Asian economic powerhouse, but warned that “we also have to be clear eyed about it – that China plays by a very different set of rules and principles than we do in the West”.
Trudeau also ruled out escalating the situation between the two countries.
Meng, who is currently under house arrest in Vancouver and fighting a legal battle against extradition to the US, was arrested in December last year.
The US accuse her of fraud and violating sanctions imposed on Iran. Both Meng and Huawei deny all charges of wrongdoing.
Trudeau’s comments came a day after Canada announced a new ambassador to China in the form of Dominic Barton, who formerly spent time in China as the global managing partner for consulting firm McKinsey.
“We hoped he would play a positive role in getting China-Canada relations back on track,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang regarding the appointment.