Trudeau: US trade pact should require China to free two detainees

Canada PM wants the US leverage trade deal to pressure China to release two Canadians detained in Beijing since 2018.

    It was unclear whether Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was referring to the so-called phase one deal between China and the United States, which has yet to be signed, or a more complete agreement [File: Chris Wattie/Reuters]
    It was unclear whether Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was referring to the so-called phase one deal between China and the United States, which has yet to be signed, or a more complete agreement [File: Chris Wattie/Reuters]

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that the United States government should not finalise a trade deal with China unless the pact also secures the release of two Canadians detained by Beijing.

    The two men were picked up separately in December 2018, shortly after police in Vancouver held Huawei Technologies Co Ltd Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a US arrest warrant. The two Canadians face state security charges.

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    Trudeau said Canada has been working with Washington in a bid to convince China to release the two men: businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig.

    "We have said that the United States should not sign a final and complete agreement with China that does not settle the question of Meng Wanzhou and the two Canadians," Trudeau told Quebec television station TVA.

    It was unclear whether Trudeau was referring to the so-called phase one deal between China and the US, which has yet to be signed, or a more complete agreement.

    US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the two sides would sign the phase one trade pact, which calls for US farm product exports to China to double over the next two years, at the beginning of January.

    Joseph Crook, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Ottawa, said Washington was deeply concerned by the arrest of the two Canadians.

    "President Trump and other senior officials have called for the release of the two detained Canadians in meetings with the highest levels of the Chinese government," he said via email.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency