Canadian delegation in China demand detainees be released

Canadian delegation in China demand detainees be released
OTTAWA The parliamentary delegation currently in China says they have directly called for the release of two detained Canadians and discussed the arrest of Meng Wanzhou with Chinese officials.

Speaking with CTV News Channel from Shanghai, Conservative MP Michael Cooper said that, during discussions with officials, the group stated Canada position and called for "the immediate release" of citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

"I think by the end the Chinese officials whom we met with, got our message," Cooper said, noting that the people whom they spoke to are not those directly involved in the cases of these two Canadians.

This is the highest level Canadian delegation to visit China since Kovrig, a diplomat on leave from Global Affairs employed by the International Crisis Group in Beijing, and Spavor, an entrepreneur who organized trips to North Korea, were arrested on Dec. 10.

The diplomatic trip, scheduled before last months detentions, is being taken by members of the Canada-China Legislative Association, a bipartisan group of four MPs and two Senators with a shared interest in Canada-China relations. The intention of the trip was to discuss bilateral issues such as trade, though the current diplomatic tensions have overshadowed the initial intention of the trip.

"This is not business as usual," Cooper said.

During the meetings, Cooper said that the Chinese also brought up Canada s arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, which came just over a week before the Canadians were detained in China. Canada arrested Meng after an extradition request from United States justice officials, who are accusing her of misleading banks in an effort to sidestep U.S. sanctions against Iran.

"Everything that they said was what has been said by the Chinese Embassy in Canada, a lot of misinformation, a lot of misstatements, inference of the facts, and we corrected them in that regard," Cooper said.
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