Trudeau calls PM Lee Hsien Loong to discuss Canada-China row

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been making phone calls to various leaders across the world to discuss the Canada-China dispute. In the past 10 days he has spoken with the leaders of Finland, Argentina, New Zealand, the European Council an
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been making phone calls to various leaders across the world to discuss the Canada-China dispute. In the past 10 days he has spoken with the leaders of Finland, Argentina, New Zealand, the European Council and US President Donald Trump, according to his office's official website.PHOTO: AFP

Canadian PM and S'pore leader also talk about Pacific Rim trade deal, bilateral cooperation

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was briefed by his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau on the ongoing dispute between Canada and China during a phone call from Mr Trudeau on Thursday.

"Prime Minister Lee noted the importance of all countries following due process of the law, and being seen to be doing so, when dealing with cases involving foreign nationals," the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in Singapore said in a statement released early yesterday morning.

"He expressed the hope that the matter would be resolved calmly and amicably, without further escalation," the PMO added.

Mr Trudeau has been making phone calls to various leaders across the world to discuss the Canada-China dispute. In the past 10 days, he has spoken with the leaders of Finland, Argentina, New Zealand, the European Council, and US President Donald Trump, according to his office's official website.

Canada and China have been locked in a diplomatic row since Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested on Dec 1 at Vancouver International Airport for extradition to the United States at the request of American prosecutors.

She was charged with fraud and is out on bail, but her arrest was met with a strong response from Beijing, which called the charges baseless and summoned the Canadian and American ambassadors in protest over the incident.

The diplomatic rift deepened when China detained two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and consultant Michael Spavor - just over a week after Meng's arrest, in what was viewed as a retaliatory move.

 
 
 
 

Tensions further escalated when Canadian national Robert Schellenberg was sentenced to death on Monday in a retrial of his drug smuggling case, a move which the US and Canada called politically motivated.

In a separate statement on Thursday's call with Mr Lee, Mr Trudeau's office said both leaders "discussed the detention of two Canadians in China, the application of the death penalty to a third Canadian in China, and the importance of safeguarding international norms, including diplomatic immunity, judicial independence and respect for the rule of law".

The two leaders also discussed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal which both countries are part of and which entered into force on Dec 30.

Canada and Singapore were among the first to ratify the agreement, deepening trade and investment ties, and bringing economic benefits and good jobs to both countries, said the Canadian statement.

The leaders also talked about cooperation between Singapore and Canada, following Mr Trudeau's working visit to Singapore for the Asean Summit and related meetings in November last year, said Singapore's PMO.

"Both leaders welcomed the momentum in bilateral cooperation between the two countries, including in the commercial relationship," added Mr Trudeau's office.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2019, with the headline 'Trudeau calls PM Lee to discuss Canada-China row'. Print Edition | Subscribe