Chinese embassy lashes out at 'some politicians' over talk of freeing Canadians

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's appeal to the U.S. to help secure the freedom of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor is "a waste of time" and "doomed to fail," China's foreign ministry said Friday.

Criticism appears to have been prompted by Trudeau comments

A row of alternating Canada and China flags.
China and Canada have been at odds since the Vancouver arrest a year ago of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition request from the U.S. (Fred Dufour/The Canadian Press/AP)

The Chinese embassy is taking a swing at "some Canadian politicians" over what it describes as "erroneous remarks" about the relationship between the two countries and the cases of two Canadians detained in China.

The statement posted on the embassy's website doesn't specify the politicians or exact comments.

But it appears to have been prompted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments in a French-language interview that aired last week on TVA.

During the interview, Trudeau said Canada has asked the United States not to sign a free-trade deal with China unless Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are freed.

The Chinese embassy says attempt to "gang up on China" by way of "megaphone diplomacy" and "pressuring China for unrelated matters is doomed."

Spavor and Kovrig

The statement also calls on Canada to release Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested just over a year ago on an extradition request from the U.S., where officials want to try her over fraud allegations.

Days after her arrest at Vancouver's airport, China detained Spavor and Kovrig.

While China says the two men were arrested over espionage allegations, their detentions are widely seen as a tit-for-tat response to Meng's arrest.

Earlier this month, China's foreign ministry said the Kovrig and Spavor cases had been transferred to prosecutors for review and prosecution.

"China's judicial authority handles cases in strict accordance with law and their legitimate rights and interests are guaranteed," the embassy's statement says.

PM: 2 Canadians unfairly detained

"The Chinese side urges the Canadian side to earnestly respect the spirit of rule of law and China's judicial sovereignty and refrain from making irresponsible remarks."

In an interview with CBC's Power and Politics host Vassy Kapelos last week, Trudeau repeated his government's position that Kovrig and Spavor had been unfairly detained and that Canada was living up to its extradition treaty obligations with the United States when it detained Meng.

"Canada is simply applying the rule of law and a long-standing extradition treaty with our closest partner," Trudeau said. "For China to have detained two Canadians in retaliation demonstrates that they don't entirely appreciate how our justice system works." 

A number of countries and bodies, including the U.S., Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the G7 and NATO have spoken out in support of the detained Canadians, calling for their release and in support of the rule of law.

Trudeau on China, Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig

3 years ago
Duration 4:48
'These two Canadians that have been unfairly detained need to be returned home.'

With files from Power and Politcs