Published: Wed, January 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trudeau reaches out to Ardern over China

Trudeau reaches out to Ardern over China

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was handed death penalty on Monday after appealing the 15-year jail term he was given in 2016.

Hours later, in an apparent bid to ease the tension, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke of the "very important and long-standing ties" between the two nations.

The pair discussed the legal treatment and detention of Canadian citizens in China, and the extradition case of a Huawei executive in Canada, according to Trudeau's office.

She added that the Government closely monitors worldwide developments which may affect the safety of New Zealanders overseas, but advice for travel to China was to exercise normal safety and security precautions.

Hua told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that China expresses "our strong dissatisfaction with this" and is cautioning its citizens about travelling to Canada.

"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our worldwide friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply (the) death in this case", Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

It's unclear whether the ominous notice could impact the huge number of Chinese travellers who come to Canada each year.

Beijing had earlier said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made "irresponsible remarks" for saying China chose to "arbitrarily apply" death penalties.

A senior Canadian government official said Chinese officials have been questioning Kovrig about his diplomatic work in China, which is a major reason why Trudeau is asserting diplomatic immunity.

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In response to Canada's travel advisory on China, Beijing issued a similar response, urging its nationals to "travel cautiously".

The Trudeau government is seeking clemency for a Canadian sentenced to death in China amid growing tensions between the two countries.

The sentence came during a clash between Ottawa and Beijing over Canada's arrest in December of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of telecom giant Huawei, on a USA extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

Bloomberg reported that executives from Chinese state-owned enterprises had been cautioned against travelling to the USA and the Five Eyes intelligence partner countries - Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

And, earlier this week, a Canadian citizen in China was sentenced to death after he was convicted of drug smuggling.

She rhymed off a list of countries - Germany, France, the Netherlands, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Australia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia - for "publicly coming out and speaking against these arbitrary detentions".

"We urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China's legal sovereignty, correct its mistakes, and stop making irresponsible remarks", Ms Hua said.

The prime minister and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri "discussed the arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China and the importance of safeguarding global norms, including judicial independence and respect for the rule of law".

"China is going to face lots of questions about why this particular person, of this particular nationality, had to be retried at this particular time", Human Rights Watch's Washington-based China director Sophie Richardson told Reuters. His lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client has 10 days to contest the latest sentence.

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