Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Wednesday that a second Canadian citizen has been questioned by Chinese authorities, days after Beijing detained a former Canadian diplomat.

“We are aware of a Canadian who got in touch with us because he was being asked questions by Chinese authorities,” Freeland told reporters. She said that the ministry has not been able to contact him since.

Chrystia Freeland
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Photo: Screenshot.

The man has been identified as Michael Spavor by Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail. Spavor heads the China-based travel company Paektu Cultural Exchange, organising tours, business trips and sports events in North Korea, including US basketball player Dennis Rodman’s trip to Pyongyang. Spavor did not arrive in Seoul on Monday for a scheduled business trip.

Spavor was picked up by Dandong National Security Bureau on Monday and stands accused of “endangering China’s national security,” according to local state-run media.

Freeland said that the ministry has raised the case with Chinese authorities and is in touch with Spavor’s family.

It comes shortly after former diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained by Chinese state security in Beijing on Monday night, according to NGO International Crisis Group (ICG). Kovrig was a senior advisor to the ICG.

michael kovrig international crisis group china
File photo: International Crisis Group.

Beijing said on Wednesday that Kovrig may have violated Chinese laws if he carried out work in the country, because his employer is not legally registered in China.

According to the Globe and Mail, Spavor and Kovrig knew each other.

Kovrig was detained days after the arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada, following a request by US authorities who seek to extradite Meng on fraud charges. Meng was released on bail on Wednesday. Although the pattern of arrests has sparked fears of a diplomatic tit for tat between the two nations.

Freeland declined to say whether either Kovrig or Spavor’s case was connected to Meng’s arrest.

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.