China Confirms Detaining Two Canadians


13 December, 2018

China has confirmed that a second Canadian citizen has been detained since Canada's arrest of a Chinese business official earlier this month.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang spoke to reporters in Beijing Thursday about the situation. Lu said that businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig had been detained on Monday. Kovrig had been reported as missing earlier this week. Reports of Spavor's disappearance began to show up on Wednesday.

Lu said the two Canadians' are suspected of acts that harm state security and that their legal rights were being "safeguarded."

He said Beijing security and state security officials in the city of Dandong, Liaoning Province had taken measures against Spavor and Kovrig.

Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor are the two Canadians who were detained by China. Chinese officials say they are being investigated for acts that hurt state security.
Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor are the two Canadians who were detained by China. Chinese officials say they are being investigated for acts that hurt state security.

Who are the Canadian businessmen?

Spavor is director of Paektu Cultural Exchange. It plans sports and educational exchanges with North Korea. He has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Spavor also has been a translator for former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman during his visits to North Korea.

Before his detention, Spavor told Reuters news agency that he was working with North Korean officials and possible investors in Dandong.

Kovrig is the North East Asia senior advisor for the International Crisis Group. He served as a Canadian diplomat from 2003 to 2016.

The arrests of the two Canadians took place about one week after the arrest by Canada of a top official with Chinese technology company Huawei Technologies. Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, Canada.

Canadian officials arrested Meng after the United States released a warrant for her arrest. She is accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Huawei official under house arrest

On Tuesday, a Canadian judge released Meng from jail after a bail payment of $10 million. However, she is to appear in court at a later date and is under house arrest.

Meng is chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies, a company created by her father. It is one of the world's biggest telecommunications companies.

U.S. officials accuse Meng of lying to banks about Huawei's control of a company based in Hong Kong that reportedly sold products to Iran. Iran is currently under strong U.S. sanctions.

If tried and found guilty in the United States, Meng could face up to 30 years in prison.

After her arrest, China called for Meng's immediate release.

Officials say that China has not linked Kovrig's detention to Meng's arrest in Canada. However, Canadian diplomatic experts have said it is likely that the two cases are linked.

China called the U.S. ambassador to make a formal protest over the issue.

The arrest comes at a sensitive time when the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is negotiating with China over trade.

I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on VOA, Reuters and AP news reports. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

warrant –n. a document issued by a court that gives police permission to do something

sanctions –n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country

bail –n. an amount of money given to a court to permit a prisoner to leave jail and return later for trial

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