China formally arrests 2 Canadians in case linked to Huawei

China's detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on suspicions of espionage has inflamed tensions between Ottawa and Beijing

Canada has demanded that China promptly release two of its nationals who have been formally arrested following months of detention on national security grounds, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the arrests "unacceptable".

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were detained on December 10, accused of gathering and stealing "sensitive information and other intelligence" since 2017.

Asked what might prompt him to contact China's President Xi Jinping about the Kovrig and Spavor cases directly, Trudeau said: "What we are always focused on is doing things that are going to help the Canadians being detained, that are in difficulty overseas".

"The Chinese government is not following the same kind of rules that the large majority of democracies follow", Trudeau told a news conference in Paris on Thursday.

The men were detained separately in December in a move seen by some in the West as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the request of the US.

The US Commerce Department said on Wednesday that it was adding Huawei Technologies and 70 affiliates to its so-called "Entity List" in a move that bans the Chinese company from acquiring components and technology from US firms without prior US government approval.

Both men have been denied access to lawyers and allowed only monthly consular visits.

"Chinese judicial authorities are handling the cases according to law", and Spavor and Kovrig's "legitimate rights and interests are fully guaranteed", Lu said.

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No details of the men's detention or health conditions were provided due to Canadian privacy laws, but officials said that they would press for further access to the detainees.

But this is the harrowing story of Canadian couple Kevin and Julia Garratt who had lived in China for 30 years before they were taken into custody.

China is demanding Meng's immediate release and has called on the United States to withdraw the extradition request and stop the "unreasonable suppression" of Chinese companies. Having been formally arrested, the two are likely to face trial soon.

The 47-year-old daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei made an appearance in a crowded courtroom in Vancouver on May 8 in the latest step in her much-anticipated extradition hearing.

She was arrested at Vancouver's airport in December on a USA warrant and is fighting extradition on charges that she conspired to defraud global banks about Huawei's relationship with a company operating in Iran.

Ms Meng was released from jail in December on bail and must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and pay for security guards.

Meanwhile, two other Canadians convicted of drug trafficking have been sentenced to death.

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