Canada says 13 citizens detained in China since Huawei CFO arrest

A man holds a Chinese flag outside the B.C. Supreme Court bail hearing of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on Dec 11, 2018.
A man holds a Chinese flag outside the B.C. Supreme Court bail hearing of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on Dec 11, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

TORONTO (REUTERS) - Canada said on Thursday (Jan 3) that 13 of its citizens have been detained in China since Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested last month in Vancouver at the request of the United States.

At least eight of those 13 have since been released, a Canadian government statement said, without disclosing what charges, if any, have been laid.

Prior to Thursday's statement, the detention of only three Canadian citizens had been publicly disclosed. Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have escalated since Ms Meng's arrest on Dec 1.

The Canadian government has said several times that it sees no explicit link between the arrest of Ms Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, and the detentions of Canadian citizens.

But Beijing-based Western diplomats and former Canadian diplomats have said they believe the detentions were a "tit-for-tat" reprisal by China.

Ms Meng was released on a C$10 million (S$10.1 million) bail on Dec 11 and is now living in one of her two multi-million-dollar Vancouver homes as she fights extradition to the US.

The 46-year-old executive must wear an ankle monitor and stay at home from 11pm to 6am.

 
 
 

The 13 Canadians detained include Mr Michael Kovrig, Mr Michael Spavor and Ms Sarah McIver, said a Canadian government official who declined to be identified on Thursday.

Ms McIver, a teacher, has since been released and returned to Canada. Mr Kovrig and Mr Spavor remain in custody. Canadian consular officials saw them once each in mid-December.

Overall, there are about 200 Canadians who have been detained in China for a variety of alleged infractions and continue to face ongoing legal proceedings. "This number has remained relatively stable," the official said.

In comparison, there are almost 900 Canadians in a similar situation in the US, the official added.