Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that Chinese officials are not respecting the diplomatic immunity of one of the Canadians detained in China last month as he ramped up efforts to get them released. Trudeau's comments are an apparent reference to Kovrig, who was on leave from his position with the Canadian foreign service and had been working for the International Crisis Group.
China seized a pair of Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on December 10 in the aftermath of Canada's arrest of a Huawei Technologies Co. executive, Meng Wanzhou. She is out on bail in Canada and awaiting a bail extradition proceeding next month. He encouraged China to do the same.
"This is something that we are engaged right now both with Chinese officials and with our partners around the world where there is a concern for the need for all countries to do like Canada and to respect the rule of law and the independence of our judicial processes".
"It is unfortunate that China has arbitrarily and unfairly detained two Canadian citizens, and indeed in one of the cases is not respecting diplomatic immunity", he continued. He added saying, "We have a justice system that is not subject to political interference". The United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Australia have issued statements in support.
Although Canada says China has made no specific link between the detentions and Meng's arrest, experts and former diplomats say they have no doubt Beijing is using the cases of the two men to pressure Ottawa.
In a newspaper editorial published on Wednesday, Lu Shaye, China's ambassador to Ottawa, accused Canada of "double standards" which he said were caused by "western egotism and white supremacy".