China’s primitive methods of effectively abducting foreign nationals in order to achieve foreign policy goals is facing mounting criticism as both Australia and Canada have strongly condemned arbitrary detentions of their citizens in China.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has directly hit out at China for arresting “random Canadians” and pursuing diplomatic goals, while Australia has warned its citizens living in and travelling to China of ‘arbitrary detention’ by Chinese authorities.
Canada’s outburst against China is based on the detention of two Canadian nationals- Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman. They were arrested by Chinese authorities in December 2018. This is particularly detestable because it is a tit-for-tat measure against the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou by Canada in December 2018, on an extradition request from the United States.
Wanzhou is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei. She was arrested by Canada over US allegations of violating trade sanctions on Iran. So, Beijing decided to pick up random Canadian nationals on espionage accusations.
Till June this year, no charges were framed against them. And worse still, Beijing had even withheld consular access to the two Canadian citizens, citing Coronavirus lockdown of prison.
Beijing’s message is loud and clear- release Meng Wanzhou or let the two Michaels die. China is the only country that sponsors kidnappings if relations with a country go downhill. And Beijing is doing this quite openly. Chen Weihua, the European Union (EU) Bureau Chief of the State-owned China Daily newspaper tweeted, “People often fail to note that Meng is worth 10 Kovrig & Spavor, if not more.”
Meng Wanzhou’s extradition is moving ahead as a strong case has been made out against her. But China is constantly accusing Canada of becoming an American lackey. Xi Jinping controls Chinese courts with a high conviction rate of 99 per cent. He doesn’t understand ‘Independence of Judiciary’. And therefore, he wants to hold Canadian nationals to ransom for bending the Canadian judiciary.
Trudeau is naturally irked by Chinese actions. Coming down heavily on the Communist country, he said, “If the Chinese government concludes that detaining (citizens) is an effective way to gain leverage over Canadians and the Canadian government, to randomly arrest Canadians, then no Canadian will be safe.”
The Canadian Prime Minister further said any regime would start arresting “random Canadians” in order to pursue diplomatic goals. He added, “To demonstrate to China that they can just arrest Canadians and they can get what they want out of Canada – even for us going against the independence of our judicial system – would be absolutely unacceptable.”
Trudeau is not wrong in feeling enraged by China’s “hostage diplomacy” and even Australia has joined him in holding China accountable over the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals in China.
Canberra itself came to terms with China’s primitive and barbaric ways in a harsh manner. As trade tensions escalated between China- Beijing slapped steep tariffs against Australia and Australian citizens decided to boycott Chinese products, Beijing turned rogue. An Australian national was sentenced to death last month after being convicted by a Chinese Court on smuggling charges.
Australian government was left shocked and stated, “Australia opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances for all people. We support the universal abolition of the death penalty and are committed to pursuing this goal through all the avenues available to us.”
The convicted Australian’s friends and family claims that he is innocent and the conviction was made without any due process. The allegations against China are quite believable given the country’s unusually high conviction rate and secret jails. Also, the Australian citizen was arrested seven years ago, but China has sought to extinguish his life only when trade tensions escalated with Canberra.
Australia has reacted by upgrading travel warning for China. Warning its citizens this Tuesday, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, “Australians may also be at risk of arbitrary detention.”
It is horrifying how China takes revenge on a country’s citizens, if the government of that country chooses not to budge in to Beijing’s unfair demands. The US too has stood strongly with Canada over this issue. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The United States stands with Canada in calling on Beijing for the immediate release of the two men and rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada. Additionally, we echo Canada’s call for immediate consular access to its two citizens, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, as China has prohibited such access for almost six months, and the world has no knowledge of the two Canadians’ condition.”
What Canadian and Australian nationals had to go through is horrifying. And there is a strong warning for the world community underlying such arbitrary detentions. If you visit China, you are not safe. You can be charged with threatening China’s national security and you wouldn’t even know why. The next thing you know, you are incarcerated in a secret Chinese jail, followed by an inequitable trial before a Kangaroo court. China isn’t just a rogue country, but it is also an extortionist State.