Trudeau says China not respecting diplomatic immunity

Cornelia Mascio
Gennaio 14, 2019

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched a scathing attack on China on Friday, over the detention of two Canadian citizens in Beijing, and defended Canada's arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States that has sparked a diplomatic row between China and Canada.

Kovrig is an analyst on northeast Asia for the International Crisis Group think tank who took a leave of absence from the Canadian government.

China arrested former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor on vague national security allegations. Meng has been released on bail and is living in her Vancouver home awaiting further extradition proceedings. He encouraged China to do the same. He added saying, "We have a justice system that is not subject to political interference". But Trudeau said Friday that China is "not respecting the principles of diplomatic immunity". "Canada is a country of the rule of law".

It was the first public comment on Kovrig's status. The U.S. has said China should release the Canadians. Trudeau's statement therefore suggests that Kovrig carried such a passport while on sabbatical, which is possible if authorised by Canada's foreign ministry.

"The fact that Mr. Kovrig is an employee of my department means a lot of us know him and that adds another layer to the concern", Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on December 12 during a press conference in Ottawa, but she didn't say at that time he was entitled to diplomatic immunity.

In a newspaper editorial published on Wednesday, Lu Shaye, China's ambassador to Ottawa, accused Canada of "double standards" which he said were caused by "western egotism and white supremacy".

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