A Canadian entrepreneur accused in China of espionage days after the arrest of a Huawei executive faces a possible verdict on Wednesday, as Beijing steps up pressure ahead of a court ruling on whether to hand over the executive to do so. facing US criminal charges.
Michael Spavor and fellow Canadian Michael Kovrig have been detained in China in what critics have called a “hostage policy” after Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in 2018 in connection with possible trade sanctions violations against Iran .
Canadian Ambassador Dominic Barton said he would visit Spavor in Dandong, about 210 miles (340 km) east of Beijing, on the North Korean border.
When asked on Tuesday when a decision could be made, Barton said: “Our feeling is that it’s tomorrow.” Regarding the former diplomat Kovrig, he said: “We have not received any indication about this.”
Separately, a court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of a third Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, whose prison sentence for a drug case was sharply increased to death following the executive arrest.
Canada and other governments, including Australia and the Philippines, face increasing pressure from China in disputes over human rights, coronaviruses and land claims. Washington has warned Americans that they face “an increased risk of arbitrary detention” in China for reasons other than law enforcement.
The timing of Spavor’s verdict and sentencing corresponds to a closely watched week in Canada, where Meng and his lawyers argued before a judge that his extradition should be dismissed. In the coming days, the Canadian government will argue that the extradition should continue.
“It is unclear whether China really believes that we have a legal system separate from government interference. I really don’t know if they appreciate this reality, ”said Stephanie Carvin, professor of international relations at Carleton University. “But the point is, it’s no coincidence that these verdicts happen this week.”
While Spavor’s conviction has been condemned by Canadian officials and allies, it nonetheless represents a movement in the case. “There is the thinnest of silver linings; as the legal processes move towards some sort of conclusion, we move more towards an endgame, ”Carvin said.
She referred to an earlier diplomatic row that began in 2014, in which Canadian couple Kevin and Julia Garratt were detained, charged and sentenced in China after Canada extradited Su Bin, a suspected spy, to the United States. United. It wasn’t until the whole process was completed that China freed the Garratt family.
“Although there are some elements of similarity in the cases, I fear that the China of 2015 may not be the China of today. We have seen a much more aggressive foreign and security policy come out of the country, ”Carvin said.
The aggression – and a series of icy meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials – dampened hopes that a deal between the two nations might be imminent.
At the same time, legal experts have previously said Meng’s case could take nearly a decade if she continues her appeals all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.