By Barry Ellsworth
A Canadian delegation to China was confronted Monday by Chinese officials for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the Canadians then brought up the plight of two nationals jailed in China.
A Canadian senator, however, who attended the meeting did not know what, if any, headway was made in securing the release of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.
“The gist of the message is that the executive branch of Canada has asked for their immediate release,” said Senator Joseph Day after the Monday meeting.
Meng was arrested in Vancouver early last month at the request of the Americans who want her to face fraud charges in the U.S. Meng was granted bail and is awaiting a Canadian extradition hearing.
The Chinese were incensed over Meng’s arrest and shortly after detained the two Canadians. The Chinese are certain Canada is doing the U.S. bidding, holding Meng as a pawn in a fragile trade war truce between the world’s two largest economies.
“(The Chinese) feel that there is politics involved in this … and I assured them that there would be no politics influencing the judges in Canada,” Day said.
The Canadian government has faced criticism at home for not doing enough to get the Canadians released. Groups insisted the plight of the pair should have been officially placed on the agenda of the Canada-Chinese Legislative Association, but it was not.
The Canadian delegation will meet with other Chinese politicians and citizens’ groups during their sojourn in China.
The Canada-Chinese Legislative Association promotes the exchange of information between Canadian parliamentarians and representatives of the National Peoples’ Congress of the Peoples’ Republic of China in order to encourage better understanding and closer ties between the two countries,” Global Affairs Canada states on its website.