China to Canada PM: Stop 'irresponsible remarks' on spy case
BEIJING (AP) - China urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday to "stop making irresponsible statements," after he said Beijing's decision to indict two Canadians for espionage was linked to his country's arrest of a Chinese tech manager.
The allegations of espionage are "completely different" than in the case of Huawei manager Meng Wanzhou, a spokesman for the State Department said. Meng was arrested on US charges of possible violations of trade sanctions against Iran.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested in Vancouver after attempting Meng's arrest in December 2018 in Canada. The charges against her were released Friday after a Canadian judge ruled that Meng's extradition process could move on to the next phase, bringing her closer to being handed over to the American authorities.
Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa that the Chinese authorities had linked the Kovrig and Spavor cases directly to Meng. He urged Beijing to end its "arbitrary detention".
"There is no arbitrary detention," said the ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian.
"China urges the Canadian head of state to seriously respect the spirit of the rule of law, respect China's judicial sovereignty, and stop making irresponsible comments," said Zhao.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the charges against Kovrig and Spavor on Monday as "politically motivated and completely unfounded."
"The United States is partnering with Canada to ask Beijing to release the two men immediately and refuses to use these unjustified detentions to force Canada," said Pompeo in a statement.
Trudeau thanked the United States and other allies for speaking out against China.
"It was clear from the start that this was a political decision by the Chinese government, and we regret it," said Trudeau on Monday. "This use of arbitrary detention as a means to promote political achievement is totally unacceptable in a rule-based world."
Meng, CFO of Huawei Technologies Ltd. and the daughter of its founder, are accused of having lied to Hong Kong banks about Huawei's dealings with Iran in possible violations of U.S. sanctions.
Meng's case is a "serious political incident" and part of the US effort to "suppress Chinese high-tech companies and Huawei," said Zhao. He said Canada "played the role of an accomplice".
"We urge Canada to correct its mistakes as soon as possible, to release Meng Wanzhou immediately, and to ensure her safe return home," said Zhao.
Meng lives in a mansion in Vancouver, where she is said to be working on a degree. Kovrig and Spavor are being held in an unknown location and have no access to lawyers or family members.
China has also sentenced two other Canadians to death and suspended imports of Canadian rapeseed.
Zhao said foreign diplomats' visits to prisoners have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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