China has detained another Canadian as the international fallout from the arrest of Chinese tech giant Huawei’s chief financial officer in Vancouver deepens.
The incident follows the arrest of two other Canadians by Chinese authorities – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – which in turn came in the wake of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s detention.
At a press conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his primary focus the best interests of the Canadians being held.
He said: “Political posturing or political statements aren’t necessarily going to contribute … They might actually hinder Canadians’ release. We’re going to take every situation carefully and seriously.”
“Canadians understand that even though political posturing might be satisfactory in the short term to make yourself … feel like you're stomping on a table and doing something significant, it may not directly contribute to the outcome we all want, which is for these Canadians to come home safely,” Trudeau added.
Last week, Chinese government spokesman Lu Kang said the two Canadians were being investigated on suspicion of harming China’s national security, and said the Canadian embassy had been informed.
“The legal rights and interests of these two Canadians have been safeguarded,” Lu told reporters.
“These two cases are in the process of being investigated separately.”
The arrests were widely interpreted as retaliation for the detention of Wanzhou in Canada on 1 December at the request of the United States, which is still involved in a trade war with China. The latest incident is likely to turn up the heat on an already tense diplomatic situation.
But the Canadian government has repeatedly said it sees no explicit link between the arrest of Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei’s influential founder, and the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor.
Wanzhou is accused of misleading banks about transactions linked to an Iranian company, putting them at risk of violating US sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.