Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned China that its “coercive diplomacy,” repressive measures in Hong Kong and detention of Uighur Muslims are counterproductive for itself and the rest of the world.
Trudeau took aim at Beijing’s record as he marked the 50th anniversary of Canada establishing diplomatic ties with China.
“We will remain absolutely committed to working with our allies to ensure that China’s approach of coercive diplomacy, its arbitrary detention of two Canadian citizens alongside other citizens of other countries around the world is not viewed as a successful tactic by them,” Trudeau said at a press conference Tuesday.
Canadian former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been held in China for nearly two years and have been charged with spying.
Canada’s ambassador to China obtained “virtual consular access” to Spavor and Kovrig over the weekend, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Saturday.
Trudeau also noted Canada’s “concern for the protection of human rights and places like Hong Kong and… with the Uighurs.”
Canada will work with “like-minded nations around the world, to impress upon China that its approach to internal affairs and global affairs is not on a particularly productive path for itself or for all of us,” he added.
Western governments see the detention of the two Canadians as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and daughter of its founder.
Meng was arrested on a US warrant in December 2018 during a stopover in Vancouver and is charged with bank fraud related to violations of US sanctions against Iran. She has been fighting extradition ever since.
In response to Trudeau’s comments, Beijing said Meng’s arrest was “real arbitrary detention and coercive diplomacy”, and accused the Canadian government of “hypocrisy and weakness” during a foreign ministry briefing Wednesday.