A Canadian is to appear before a court in northeastern China on Saturday for drugs charges, a government-run news portal said, amid frosty relations between Beijing and Ottawa.

The Liaoning People’s High Court identified the man as Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.

court museum in Beijing
This picture taken on December 20, 2018 shows a moot court in a court museum in Beijing. File photo: Wang Zhao/AFP.

In a brief statement published Wednesday, the court said he is appealing a drug smuggling case at 2:00pm (0600 GMT) on Saturday but gave no further details.

A government news portal, runsky.com, said Schellenberg is Canadian and had smuggled an “enormous amount” of drugs.

China still has the death penalty for drug trafficking.

Canada’s foreign ministry did not immediately comment on the matter.

Ties between Beijing and Ottawa have been strained after China detained two Canadians — former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and China-based businessman Michael Spavor — whom they accuse of engaging in activities that “endanger China’s security”.

Kovrig is a senior advisor at the International Crisis Group think tank, while Spavor facilitates trips to North Korea, including visits by former basketball star Dennis Rodman.

Michael Kovrig Michael Spavor
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. File photo: Twitter.

Though no link has been officially made, the arrests seem to be in retaliation to Canada’s December 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

She was detained on request from the United States, which has accused her of violating sanctions of Iran.

Another Canadian, a woman named Sarah McIver, is also being held pending deportation for working illegally in China.

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