In this image made from a video taken on March 28, 2018, North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (AP Photo)

Trump’s willingness to intervene in Meng detention roils Canada’s justification

The International Crisis Group said Tuesday, Dec. 11 it’s aware of reports that its North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig has been detained.

Donald Trump’s declaration that he might intervene in charges against a top Chinese corporate executive who was detained in Vancouver is raising new questions about Canada’s role in the growing tensions between two superpowers.

The U.S. president told Reuters in an interview that he could step into the case against Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou if it would help him forge a trade deal with China.

“Whatever’s good for this country, I would do,” Trump said in Tuesday’s interview. “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

Trump’s comments will intensify the scrutiny of Canada’s role in the U.S.-China standoff.

Canadian authorities arrested Meng at the request of the U.S., which alleges she tried to bypass American trade sanctions on Iran and lied to U.S. banks about her actions.

Ottawa has repeatedly stated the arrest, which has enraged China, is keeping with international laws on extradition and was a response to a lawful request from U.S. law enforcement.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has stressed that politics, or doing the U.S.’s bidding, had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Read more: B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Read more: Former Canadian diplomat detained in China amid rising tensions: reports

Canada already appears to be paying a price.

This week, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in a move that came days after Beijing warned Ottawa of severe consequences for Meng’s arrest.

China’s Foreign Ministry insisted Wednesday it had no information about Kovrig and declined to confirm his detention.

But ministry spokesman Lu Kang says the International Crisis Group, where Kovrig has been a Hong-Kong-based analyst since February 2017, is not registered in China and alleges its activities in the country are illegal.

“I do not have information to provide you here,” Lu said when asked about Kovrig. “If there is such a thing, please do not worry, it is assured that China’s relevant departments will definitely handle it according to law.”

Because Kovrig’s group is not registered as a non-governmental organization in China, “once its staff become engaged in activities in China, it has already violated the law,” Lu said.

Lu also repeated China’s demand for Meng’s immediate release.

The International Crisis Group said Kovrig was on a regular visit to Beijing when he taken into custody Monday night by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security, which handles intelligence and counterintelligence matters in the Chinese capital.

One of Canada’s former ambassadors to China — and Kovrig’s boss between 2014 and 2016 — said he has little doubt Kovrig’s arrest came in direct response to the Meng case.

“I can tell you that based on my 13 years of experience in China, there are no coincidences… The Chinese government wanted to send us a message,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, who was Canada’s top envoy to China from 2012 to 2016.

Active diplomats can be expelled by a host country fairly easily, but since they are protected by diplomatic immunity, arresting and holding one would be extraordinary, he said.

“In this case, it’s getting as close to that as possible,” Saint-Jacques said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Clearly, they wanted to catch the attention of everyone in Ottawa.”

Over his career, Kovrig served in diplomatic postings for the Canadian government in Beijing, Hong Kong and the United Nations mission in New York. His LinkedIn profile says he worked as the “political lead” on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Hong Kong in September 2016.

Trudeau said Tuesday that Ottawa was in direct contact with Chinese diplomats and representatives over Kovrig’s arrest.

“We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously and we are, of course, providing consular assistance to the family,” Trudeau said.

A Vancouver judge released Meng, 46, on $10-million bail and under strict conditions Tuesday. Meng has denied the allegations through her lawyer in court, promising to fight them if she is extradited.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Peninsula Panthers lose two straight for first time in season

Panthers have now lost five games, including three against the Victoria Cougars

Barbecue cooks up benefits for Movember foundation

Father’s battle with prostate cancer encourages Victoria man to support the cause

SD63 strike officially ends with union’s vote to accept agreement

More than 7,000 Saanich and Peninsula students back to school Monday

Hundreds flock to the Bay for annual Unwrap the Glam Gala

Glamorous event supports mental health initiatives across Canada

Two wins in one night for Vikes basketball

UVic Vikes men’s and women’s basketball teams victorious on Saturday

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

BC SPCA seeks help after senior cat attacked by dog twice

Nine-year-old tabby named Meow Meow will need her front leg amputated

B.C. woman ordered to return dog to ex-boyfriend for $2,000

After the two broke up, documents state, they agree to share custody of the dog, named Harlen

Abbotsford police chief mulls more enforcement of homeless lawbreakers

‘When all else has failed we have to hold people accountable,’ Police Chief Mike Serr tells council

Striking Vancouver hotel workers, employer reach ‘tentative’ agreement

Employees of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia have been out at picket lines since talks broke off on Sept. 21

RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest

The group is protesting Interior Savings Credit Union’s support of Kelowna Ribfest

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

In British Columbia temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be just below normal

Most Read