In this image made from a video taken on March 28, 2018, North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (AP Photo)

In this image made from a video taken on March 28, 2018, North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (AP Photo)

Trump’s willingness to intervene in Meng detention roils Canada’s justification

The International Crisis Group said Tuesday, Dec. 11 it’s aware of reports that its North East Asia senior adviser Michael Kovrig has been detained.

Donald Trump’s declaration that he might intervene in charges against a top Chinese corporate executive who was detained in Vancouver is raising new questions about Canada’s role in the growing tensions between two superpowers.

The U.S. president told Reuters in an interview that he could step into the case against Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou if it would help him forge a trade deal with China.

“Whatever’s good for this country, I would do,” Trump said in Tuesday’s interview. “If I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

Trump’s comments will intensify the scrutiny of Canada’s role in the U.S.-China standoff.

Canadian authorities arrested Meng at the request of the U.S., which alleges she tried to bypass American trade sanctions on Iran and lied to U.S. banks about her actions.

Ottawa has repeatedly stated the arrest, which has enraged China, is keeping with international laws on extradition and was a response to a lawful request from U.S. law enforcement.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has stressed that politics, or doing the U.S.’s bidding, had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Read more: B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Read more: Former Canadian diplomat detained in China amid rising tensions: reports

Canada already appears to be paying a price.

This week, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in a move that came days after Beijing warned Ottawa of severe consequences for Meng’s arrest.

China’s Foreign Ministry insisted Wednesday it had no information about Kovrig and declined to confirm his detention.

But ministry spokesman Lu Kang says the International Crisis Group, where Kovrig has been a Hong-Kong-based analyst since February 2017, is not registered in China and alleges its activities in the country are illegal.

“I do not have information to provide you here,” Lu said when asked about Kovrig. “If there is such a thing, please do not worry, it is assured that China’s relevant departments will definitely handle it according to law.”

Because Kovrig’s group is not registered as a non-governmental organization in China, “once its staff become engaged in activities in China, it has already violated the law,” Lu said.

Lu also repeated China’s demand for Meng’s immediate release.

The International Crisis Group said Kovrig was on a regular visit to Beijing when he taken into custody Monday night by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security, which handles intelligence and counterintelligence matters in the Chinese capital.

One of Canada’s former ambassadors to China — and Kovrig’s boss between 2014 and 2016 — said he has little doubt Kovrig’s arrest came in direct response to the Meng case.

“I can tell you that based on my 13 years of experience in China, there are no coincidences… The Chinese government wanted to send us a message,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, who was Canada’s top envoy to China from 2012 to 2016.

Active diplomats can be expelled by a host country fairly easily, but since they are protected by diplomatic immunity, arresting and holding one would be extraordinary, he said.

“In this case, it’s getting as close to that as possible,” Saint-Jacques said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Clearly, they wanted to catch the attention of everyone in Ottawa.”

Over his career, Kovrig served in diplomatic postings for the Canadian government in Beijing, Hong Kong and the United Nations mission in New York. His LinkedIn profile says he worked as the “political lead” on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Hong Kong in September 2016.

Trudeau said Tuesday that Ottawa was in direct contact with Chinese diplomats and representatives over Kovrig’s arrest.

“We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously and we are, of course, providing consular assistance to the family,” Trudeau said.

A Vancouver judge released Meng, 46, on $10-million bail and under strict conditions Tuesday. Meng has denied the allegations through her lawyer in court, promising to fight them if she is extradited.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Hazelton school COVID-19 closure extended one week

With spring break on horizon, Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary will be closed to end of March

BC CDC graphic showing weekly numbers of new cases by local health area.
Local health area records 11 new COVID-19 cases from Feb. 21 to 27

The Northwest has become the COVID hotspot in the province

The Smithers recycling depot was destroyed by fire May 9, 2019. (Thom Barker photo)
Curbside recycling pickup returns to Smithers

The Town will start collecting single stream, loose and clean residential recyclables April 12

Adam's Igloo sustained serious damage when the roof collapsed. (Facebook photo)
Roof collapses on Smithers landmark

Cleanup efforts underway at Adams Igloo and Wildlife Museum

Instructor and master artist Dempsey Bob (right) speaks to the crowd at the Terrace Art Gallery about the importance of cultural art on Feb. 7, 2020. Bob is a recipient of a 2021 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts Artistic Achievement Award. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Northwest artist Dempsey Bob wins national art award

Renowned Tahltan-Tlingit master carver one of eight people to receive Governor General’s Arts Award

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed that a call was received just before 10 a.m. Ground paramedics, as well as an air ambulance, are on the way to the area. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Most Read