China lodges complaint with Canada over Trudeau's 'coercive diplomacy' remarks

China said on Wednesday it has lodged solemn representations with Canada on media reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had criticized China over its measures in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

China grants virtual consular access to Canadian Robert Schellenberg facing death penalty in China

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took aim at Beijing Tuesday while marking the 50th anniversary of Canada’s diplomatic ties with China. (Fred Dufour/Pool/Reuters)

China said Wednesday it has lodged solemn representations with Canada in response to media reports of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticizing China over its measures in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Trudeau attacked Beijing's human rights record while marking the 50th anniversary of Canada's diplomatic ties with China.

"We will continue to work with China for advancing Canadian interests and Canadian producers. At the same time, 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," he said.

"It has put a significant strain on Canada-China relations and we will continue to highlight our concern for the Canadians detained, our concern for the protection of human rights in places like Hong Kong, in Xinjiang province with the Uighurs."

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said the Canadian government had shown hypocrisy and weakness.

Canada is continuing to press China to release Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Both men were detained in China in December 2018 following Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive with the Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Meng is also the daughter of the company's founder.

Canadian police detained Meng in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request nine days before Kovrig and Spavor were arrested. The U.S. is seeking Meng's extradition on fraud charges and her extradition case is before the Canadian courts. Her arrest severely damaged relations between China and Canada.

Consular access to Schellenberg 

One month after Kovrig and Spavor were arrested, China sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death in a sudden retrial. Schellenberg already had been sentenced to a 15-year jail term for drug smuggling.

All three moves were widely seen as punishment for Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou.

Today, Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton was granted virtual consular access to Schellenberg; because of the provisions in the Privacy Act, the government disclosed no further information.

Podcast - Sanctioned: The Arrest of a Telecom Giant

Schellenberg was first detained on Dec. 2, 2014. Canadian officials were granted regular consular access to him until January 22, 2020.

"I continue to call for the immediate release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and for clemency for Robert Schellenberg, as we do for all Canadians facing the death penalty," said Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne in a statement.

With files from CBC News and the Associated Press

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