“Let me be very clear: your arbitrary detention is totally unacceptable, as is the lack of transparency regarding these legal proceedings,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa before referring to the US-China talks. “I am very confident that this is an issue that will be addressed at this summit.”
The negotiating dates were announced on the eve of the US-China summit. This development confirmed the belief of many that the two Canadians are farmers in a larger geopolitical power struggle.
Canada’s global calls for help: Trudeau has sought international support to urge Beijing to release the “two Michaels”.
On Friday he said he knew the US was taking its cases seriously from direct talks with President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. And Biden promised last month to work with Canada until the men returned.
“People don’t trade chips,” he said at the end of one bilateral meeting with Trudeau on February 23.
The Anchorage, Alaska Summit, the first high-level meeting under the Biden administration, started on Thursday and continues on Friday.
In a statement on Thursday evening US Chargé d’Affaires Katherine Brucker said the United States was deeply alarmed by developments in the two Michaels’ cases. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Canada to demand their immediate release and continue to condemn the lack of minimum procedural protection during their two years of arbitrary detention.”
More about the ‘two Michaels’: The fate of Spavor and Kovrig has become a major foreign policy challenge for Trudeau and his Liberal government.
The men, who may be sentenced to life imprisonment for espionage, were arrested in what was widely viewed as retaliation by Beijing, which was angry at Meng’s arrest.
Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Thursday that its official requests to attend Spavor’s trial had been denied that week.
“We weren’t in the courtroom, so we have no idea what happened,” Canada’s Chargé d’Affaires Jim Nickel told reporters on Friday at the Dandong Intermediate People’s Court, where Spavor was being tried.
Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian envoy in Beijing, said the timing of the trial was not accidental. “It’s supposed to put pressure on the US [and Canada]. “
Diplomatic freezing: China accused Spavor and Kovrig of espionage, but has yet to produce evidence to support the allegations. Meng’s case is based on allegations of fraud related to her alleged violation of US sanctions against Iran.
China insists that the cases against the Canadians are not linked to Meng’s. Trudeau has made it clear that nothing will convince him otherwise.
“It is evident that the two Michaels days after fulfilling our extradition treaty responsibilities to our ally, the United States, were arrested on trumped-up national security charges,” Trudeau said on March 3rd.
China replies: Cong Peiwu, China’s ambassador to Canada said in a Statement this week that Meng is the one who “has been arbitrarily detained for over two years despite breaking no Canadian law”.
“Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been arrested for alleged crimes that undermine China’s national security and prosecuted in accordance with the law,” said Cong. “On the one hand, the Canadian side claims that they uphold the rule of law, on the other hand they are making irresponsible remarks about China’s lawful handling of relevant cases. How hypocritical and arrogant!”
USA versus China: At the start of the summit in Alaska on Thursday, national security advisers Jake Sullivan and Blinken exchanged violent words with top Chinese diplomats Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi.
“We are not looking for a conflict, but we welcome tough competition,” said Sullivan at the beginning. according to Reuters. “We will always stand up for our principles, for our people and for our friends.”
When the US informed China that it would deal with human rights and Chinese actions in Xinjiang, Yang lectured the officials about their own concerns.
In Vancouver: An extradition negotiation for Meng continues Friday with final arguments for the case, which is scheduled for mid-May. Meng has denied any wrongdoing.
What’s coming? In an earlier interview with POLITICO about the Spavor and Kovrig cases, Saint-Jacques warned that there is no fair trial in China.
“You are found guilty 99.9 percent of the time,” he said. “We know the minimum sentence will be 10 years and can go as high as life imprisonment. We have to prepare for years of difficult relationships and I think it is.” It is time the Canadian government completely reevaluated its strategy for engaging with China as this has been all about appeasement and nothing has been done. “