Chinese police prevent Canadian woman from returning home on connecting flight through Beijing
|Toronto Star 16 Jan 2019 at 16:42|
OTTAWAâChinese police boarded a plane in Beijing and refused to allow a Canadian woman, daughter of a jailed Chinese pro-democracy activist, to transit through Beijing airport en route from South Korea to Toronto.
Last week, Chinese authorities had denied Ti-Anna Wang entry into China to visit her father despite having issued her a visa, and forced her, her husband and baby daughter to board a flight to South Korea.
On Wednesday, as she and her family attempted to return to Canada on a flight from Seoul to Toronto via Beijing, Chinese police were waiting for the plane at the gate, she said in an email forwarded to the Star by lawyer Irwin Cotler.
Cotler, head of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre, has long argued for her father Wang Bingzhangâs release, and he condemned Chinaâs treatment of the manâs daughter as another example of Chinaâs new hardline approach and âhostage diplomacyâ since Canadaâs extradition arrest of Meng Wanzhou , a Huawei executive wanted in the U.S. on fraud charges.
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Wang, a Canadian citizen, said as her flight from Seoul reached the terminal gate at Beijing International Airport âthere was an announcement saying that all passengers had to stay seated under an order from the ministry of justice.
âThen five to six police officers got on the plane and came to find me in my seat. They asked for ID, and then I was escorted off, detained with daughter and separated from my husband for almost two hours. I was told that I had to go back to Korea and that I was not allowed on the flight to Toronto,â her email reads.
âNo reasons were given, other than the fact that I âwasnât allowed to go to China.â I asked repeatedly why I couldnât just return to Canada, as I had no intention of staying in China and simply transiting. The connecting Air Canada flight was leaving at around the same time as the flight back to Seoul, in the same terminal, and just a few gates apart. They said they were investigating my case but they wouldnât give me any information.â
Wang said she wasnât allowed to use her phone or computer, to contact Air Canada to rebook a flight, or to contact the Canadian embassy or her husband whom she didnât see again until they were later escorted to another gate to board a flight back to Seoul.
âIt was a shocking, terrifying and senseless ordeal with no purpose but to bully, punish and intimidate me and my family.â
Cotler said Chinaâs actions are hypocritical and abusive, and he linked it to other harassing treatment of Canadians and the âcruelâ sentence meted out to Robert Schellenberg.
âChina characterized Canadaâs arrest of Meng pursuant to its legal obligations under the U.S.-Canada extradition treaty â and where Meng was released on bail pending an independent judicial hearing â as âvile, unconscionable and evil.â These words define and describe Chinaâs hostage diplomacy ever since â including its detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and the arbitrarily cruel death sentence of Robert Schellenberg,â said Cotler.
âBut nothing exposes and unmasks Chinaâs contempt for the rule of law, in China as well as in Canada, and its own âvile, unconscionable and evilâ conduct than its cruel and inhumane treatment of Ti-Anna Wang and her infant daughter.â
Wang is a Montreal resident and a Canadian citizen, but her father is not. One of the first Chinese citizens to study in Canada, he lived here for a time, had three children but turned to promoting democracy in China from abroad, primarily in the U.S. and Asia.
He was kidnapped in 2002 by Chinese agents while in Vietnam near the border, said Cotler. Cotler says Wang was entenced and convicted âin a sham trial on the trumped up charges of espionage and terrorism to life imprisonment in solitary confinement.â
A request for comment sent to the Chinese embassy in Ottawa was not answered by the time this story was published.