In this image made from a video taken on March 28, 2018, North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (AP Photo)

In this image made from a video taken on March 28, 2018, North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (AP Photo)

Trump’s willingness to intervene in Meng detention roils Canada’s justification

The International Crisis Group said Tuesday, Dec. 11 it’s aware of reports that its North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig has been detained.

Donald Trump’s declaration that he might intervene in charges against a top Chinese corporate executive who was detained in Vancouver is raising new questions about Canada’s role in the growing tensions between two superpowers.

The U.S. president told Reuters in an interview that he could step into the case against Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou if it would help him forge a trade deal with China.

“Whatever’s good for this country, I would do,” Trump said in Tuesday’s interview. “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

Trump’s comments will intensify the scrutiny of Canada’s role in the U.S.-China standoff.

Canadian authorities arrested Meng at the request of the U.S., which alleges she tried to bypass American trade sanctions on Iran and lied to U.S. banks about her actions.

Ottawa has repeatedly stated the arrest, which has enraged China, is keeping with international laws on extradition and was a response to a lawful request from U.S. law enforcement.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has stressed that politics, or doing the U.S.’s bidding, had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Read more: B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Read more: Former Canadian diplomat detained in China amid rising tensions: reports

Canada already appears to be paying a price.

This week, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in a move that came days after Beijing warned Ottawa of severe consequences for Meng’s arrest.

China’s Foreign Ministry insisted Wednesday it had no information about Kovrig and declined to confirm his detention.

But ministry spokesman Lu Kang says the International Crisis Group, where Kovrig has been a Hong-Kong-based analyst since February 2017, is not registered in China and alleges its activities in the country are illegal.

“I do not have information to provide you here,” Lu said when asked about Kovrig. “If there is such a thing, please do not worry, it is assured that China’s relevant departments will definitely handle it according to law.”

Because Kovrig’s group is not registered as a non-governmental organization in China, “once its staff become engaged in activities in China, it has already violated the law,” Lu said.

Lu also repeated China’s demand for Meng’s immediate release.

The International Crisis Group said Kovrig was on a regular visit to Beijing when he taken into custody Monday night by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security, which handles intelligence and counterintelligence matters in the Chinese capital.

One of Canada’s former ambassadors to China — and Kovrig’s boss between 2014 and 2016 — said he has little doubt Kovrig’s arrest came in direct response to the Meng case.

“I can tell you that based on my 13 years of experience in China, there are no coincidences… The Chinese government wanted to send us a message,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, who was Canada’s top envoy to China from 2012 to 2016.

Active diplomats can be expelled by a host country fairly easily, but since they are protected by diplomatic immunity, arresting and holding one would be extraordinary, he said.

“In this case, it’s getting as close to that as possible,” Saint-Jacques said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Clearly, they wanted to catch the attention of everyone in Ottawa.”

Over his career, Kovrig served in diplomatic postings for the Canadian government in Beijing, Hong Kong and the United Nations mission in New York. His LinkedIn profile says he worked as the “political lead” on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Hong Kong in September 2016.

Trudeau said Tuesday that Ottawa was in direct contact with Chinese diplomats and representatives over Kovrig’s arrest.

“We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously and we are, of course, providing consular assistance to the family,” Trudeau said.

A Vancouver judge released Meng, 46, on $10-million bail and under strict conditions Tuesday. Meng has denied the allegations through her lawyer in court, promising to fight them if she is extradited.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The IIO’s chief civilian director has cleared Victoria police of any wrongdoing in the Nov. 21 death of a man they had earlier arrested. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation clears Victoria police of wrongdoing in arrested man’s death

Police watchdog determined police action or inaction played no role in man’s death

A West Shore man has been handed two tickets for failing to wear a mask after verbally abusing staff at a coffee shop in View Royal and gas station in Langford. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Man ticketed twice for refusing to wear mask in same day, say West Shore RCMP

Police ask businesses to report incidences when they occur

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak hits first Greater Victoria hospital

Island Health declares outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

On Nov. 23, Saanich council voted unanimously in favour of sending a letter encouraging the federal government to pass a bill to declare Sept. 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich calls for national day of reconciliation honouring residential school survivors

Sept. 30 statutory holiday would recognize harm residential schools caused, mayor says

12-year-old Ella Smiley captured some video of orcas on a sea lion hunt on Nov. 28 at Kitty Coleman Park, just north of Courtenay. Photo by Ella Smiley
VIDEO: Orcas hunt sea lion near Vancouver Island shoreline

Twelve-year-old Ella Smiley, of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings, caught up with a… Continue reading

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

Most Read