Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned China that its “coercive diplomacy,” repressive measures in Hong Kong and detention of Uighur Muslims are counterproductive for itself and the rest of the world.
Trudeau took aim at Beijing’s record on Tuesday as he marked the 50th anniversary of Canada’s diplomatic ties with China.
“We will remain absolutely committed to working with our allies to ensure that China’s approach of coercive diplomacy, its arbitrary detention of two Canadian citizens alongside other citizens of other countries around the world is not viewed as a successful tactic by them,” Trudeau said at a press conference.
He also mentioned Canada’s “concern for the protection of human rights and places like Hong Kong and … with the Uighurs.”
Trudeau said that Canada would “continue to work with our fellow like-minded nations around the world, to impress upon China that its approach to internal affairs and global affairs is not on a particularly productive path for itself or for all of us.”
Ties between the two countries deteriorated in December 2018 after Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on a US extradition warrant.
Meng was arrested during a stopover in Vancouver, where she has a home, and is charged with bank fraud related to violations of US sanctions against Iran.
Soon after, China detained Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and charged them with spying.
In August this year, a Chinese court in Guangzhou also sentenced Canadian national, Xu Weihong, to death for drug-related charges.
Last year, two other Canadians, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg and Fan Wei, were also sentenced to death in separate drug cases.
Canada’s ambassador to China obtained “virtual consular access” to Spavor and Kovrig over the weekend, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Saturday.
Western governments see the detention of the two Canadians as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Meng.
Canada has also stepped up political and diplomatic pressure on Beijing.
Earlier this month, a Canadian warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, a voyage that comes at a time of separate military tension between China and Taiwan.
Canada’s navy has sailed through the Taiwan Strait before, including in September of last year.
China, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up its military activity around the island in the past few weeks, including sending fighter jets to cross the unofficial midway line, which acts as a buffer in the strait.