China has reportedly detained a Canadian senior advisor for an international NGO, who was a previously a diplomat in Hong Kong and the mainland.

The International Crisis Group said in a statement on Tuesday night that it was aware of reports that its North East Asia Senior Adviser Michael Kovrig, had been detained. Kovrig has been a full-time expert for the group since February 2017.

“We are doing everything possible to secure additional information on Michael’s whereabouts as well as his prompt and safe release,” the statement read.

The group confirmed to HKFP that Kovrig was on business for the group in China before his detention. Details surrounding the incident remain unclear.

Kovrig was vice-consul of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing between September 2014 and August 2016. Following that, he moved to Hong Kong as consul of the Canadian Consulate General. He remained in the role until September 2016.

The International Crisis Group was formed in 1995 and is headquartered in Belgium. The transnational non-profit works “to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world,” according to its website.

Huawei extradition

Kovrig’s detention comes days after Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, following a request by the US authorities asking for the extradition of Meng on fraud charges.

Huawei has been accused by the US of breaking the country’s sanctions against Iran using a Hong Kong company called Skycom. The US considers it an “unofficial subsidiary.”

Huawei, Canada. Photo: Wikicommons.

In a since-removed op-ed for the Miami Herald, Kovrig wrote in October that “U.S.-China relations have deteriorated to their worst point since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in Beijing.”

The last tweet on his Twitter account was made on Sunday morning.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.