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Canada Minister Postpones China Visit Amid Row Over Arrest of Top Chinese Executive

Canadian tourism Minister Melanie Joly had plans to visit Beijing to attend the closing ceremony of the 'Canada-China Year of Tourism 2018', but the two nations have mutually agreed to postpone the event.

PTI

Updated:December 16, 2018, 1:18 PM IST
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Canada Minister Postpones China Visit Amid Row Over Arrest of Top Chinese Executive
Canadian tourism Minister Melanie Joly had plans to visit Beijing to attend the closing ceremony of the 'Canada-China Year of Tourism 2018', but the two nations have mutually agreed to postpone the event.
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Ottawa: Canada's tourism minister has postponed her visit to China amid a diplomatic row between the two countries over the arrest of a top executive of Chinese telecom firm Huawei.

Tourism Minister Melanie Joly had plans to visit Beijing to attend the closing ceremony of the 'Canada-China Year of Tourism 2018', but the two nations have mutually agreed to postpone the event, according to the spokesman of the minister.

It is the latest casualty amid the mounting diplomatic tension between the two countries with the potential for a trade war involving the US too.

The row started when Canadian officials detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer (CFO) of Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, on an extradition request from the US.

Meng has been released on a USD 10 million bail. She was arrested in Vancouver following an extradition request by the US. The US said she had done business with Iran which violated US trade sanctions against Tehran.

The arrest caused great public outcry in China, with many denouncing the move as "vile" and "against human rights".

The Chinese official media said "Canada chose to ignore the international rules and obey the United States, paying the bill for America's bullying actions...Canada's misdeeds, which are lawless, unreasonable and callous, have caused serious damage to its relations with China...and hurt the Chinese people's feelings".

In a potential act of retribution, Canadian nationals Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, were arrested in China, with the Chinese foreign ministry stating that they are "being investigated" on suspicion of "activities that endangered China's national security”. This has led to more tension between the two nations.

The simmering differences became apparent on December 12 when Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed that Kovrig was detained in Beijing earlier this week.

US President Donald Trump further complicated matters when he stated he would intervene in the case if he thought it could lead to a trade deal.
Canada has argued that the request to detain Meng was made at the officials' level and was not politically motivated.

The detention of the two Canadian citizens and Trump's statement about his possible intervention turned the matter from a legal issue, to a political one, with the detained Canadians and Meng serving as bargaining chips between the US and China, with Canada caught in the middle.

Despite Meng being released on bail and having to remain in Canada until at least her next court date on February 6 to decide whether she should be extradited to the US, the relationship between the three countries involved remains tense.

If Meng is extradited to the US, it can potentially turn into a crisis for the North American economy. According to trade experts Canada and the US could have their brands banned from China as retaliation. Canada has the US and China as its top two trading partners.


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