The tensions between China and Canada over the affair over the head of finance of the Chinese Telekom giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, could aggravate once again. In the People’s Republic, a second Canadian was arrested. Like former diplomat Michael Kovrig, Korea expert Michael Spavor is accused of being „involved in activities that threaten national security“. This was reported by the China News Service, referring to the State Security Bureau in Dandong on the North Korean border.
The action is viewed by observers as a potential Chinese retaliation for the arrest of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei’s daughter in Canada at the request of the United States. The top manager is accused of bank fraud in connection with sanctions against Iran. As a judge ruled Tuesday, Meng Wanzhou will be bailed out of custody pending a decision on her extradition to the US. The 46-year-old, however, must remain under strict conditions and under guard in Vancouver.
The two Canadians arrested in China work for two separate non-governmental organizations. According to the China News Service, the investigation into Korea experts Spavor was taken on Monday, which suggests the day of the arrest. The wording was almost identical to the allegation against the Northeast Asian expert of the Brussels-based Crisis Group, Kovrig, who was also arrested on Monday.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Organization „not legally registered in China“
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said that the organization offers analysis and policy advice on conflict situations, „is not legally registered in China,“ and its activities in China are illegal. The Chinese government has significantly tightened oversight of foreign, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country in recent years. Many had to leave China or operate under difficult legal conditions, which are primarily intended to prevent unpleasant political activities.
Spavor, now arrested in Korea, has good relations with North Korea through his Paektu cultural exchange organization, including organizing 2013 visits to US basketball star Dennis Rodman in Pyongyang. He is one of the few foreigners who even met ruler Kim Jong Un. Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in Montreal that her government has already raised the case with the Chinese authorities.