China accuses Canada of having 'different' human rights standards when it comes to Meng Wanzhou arrest

China suggests Canada’s allies are hypocrites for expressing concern about the detention of two Canadians but not speaking out against the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson says Meng was 'illegally' arrested, defends detainment of 2 Canadians

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Canadians Michael Kovrig, right, and Michael Spavor were arrested for undermining Chinese 'national security,' while Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested 'illegally' in Canada for the U.S. (The Associated Press/International Crisis Group/The Canadian Press)

China suggested Monday that Canada's allies are hypocrites for expressing concern about the detention of two Canadians but not speaking out against the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

"Where were their voices when the senior manager of the Chinese company was illegally detained by the Canadian side at the behest of the U.S. side?" Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Monday. "It is quite obvious that the human rights they are talking about have different standards when it comes to citizens of different countries."

Hua was responding to weekend comments by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland about the arrests of former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.

Canada made its first demand for the release of Kovrig and Spavor on Friday. The U.S., the U.K. and the EU also issued statements in support of Canada.

"We are very hard at work. We understand that working co-operatively, collectively with allies is a very effective way for Canada to work in the world, and that is what we have been doing," Freeland told reporters Saturday.

Hua defended the arrests, saying the two Canadians "engaged in activities undermining China's national security."

Meng arrested 'illegally'

Hua said Canada "illegally" detained Meng, at the request of the U.S., which wants her extradited, even though she had not violated any Canadian laws.

Meng, 46, chief financial officer for telecom giant Huawei, was arrested on Dec. 1. The U.S. has accused her of violating international sanctions against Iran through a "hidden" Huawei subsidiary called Skycom. Meng was released on bail last week.

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for Chinese telecom giant Huawei, was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1, and accused of skirting U.S. sanctions and accessing the Iran market. (Huawei via The Associated Press)

"This action, which is far from legal, legitimate and reasonable, is what truly merits the name of arbitrary detention," Hua said. "The Canadian cannot stop talking about its so-called legal obligations under its bilateral extradition treaty with the U.S. Does that mean that it can turn a blind eye to and trample on the basis norms of international law and international relations?"

Hua also called for Canada to release Meng and for the U.S. to withdraw its extradition order.

"We have all noticed that such moves by the Canadian and U.S. sides have invoked severe criticism and strong opposition from people in Canada, the U.S. and other countries who value their sense of justice," Hua said. "The ugly nature and impacts of the Meng Wanzhou case cannot be clearer."

Freeland's office said she had no response to Hua's remarks, beyond her comments Friday and Saturday.

Freeland has said Chinese authorities had not drawn a direct connection between the detention of Kovrig and Spavor and the Huawei executive's arrest.

However, Canadian analysts and former diplomats said they have no doubt the cases are linked.

"One point we have been raising with our allies ... is the concern about the worrying precedent that the arbitrary detention of these two Canadians sets. That's a point that has really resonated," said Freeland.