Biden Warns China To Free Two Canadians Being Held As ‘Bartering Chips’
US President Joe Biden has urged China to free two Canadians being held as ‘bartering chips’ by the country.
The White House warning came after the POTUS held a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pledging to cooperate with the northern nation to ensure the safe release and return of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who have been detained for more than two years.
The ‘two Michaels’ were taken into custody by Chinese authorities in December 2018, allegedly on suspicion of national security violations. Canada has accused China of conducting ‘hostage diplomacy’ with the men.
As per Global News, Biden said, ‘Human beings are not bartering chips. We’re going to work together until we get their safe return. Canada and the United States will stand together against abuse of universal rights and democratic freedom.’
Trudeau replied, ‘I would like to thank President Biden for his support for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor from arbitrary detention in China.’
He added, ‘We are facing tough times, there’s no doubt. But we are not facing them alone. Canada and the United States are each other’s closest allies, most important trading partners, and oldest friends.’
The arrest of the two Michaels came shortly after Meng Wanzhou, an executive at the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, was detained in Canada on charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud in order to circumvent US sanctions against Iran. However, unlike the Canadians, she’s been held on house arrest.
Meng is currently fighting extradition to the US, where authorities want her to stand trial. Donald Trump had reportedly earlier said he’d get more actively involved in the case if it would lead to a trade deal with China.
However, as detailed by Reuters, Canadian lawyers wrote in recent documents, ‘The facts on which it is based – statements by a president no longer in office, about a possible intervention in this case that never occurred, purportedly to achieve a trade deal that has long since been successfully negotiated – have no past, present or prospective impact on these proceedings.’
Members of Meng’s family were also granted a federal travel exemption, sparking controversy among lawmakers and the public.
Conservative MP Raquel Dancho wrote in a statement, ‘This is an insult to the millions of Canadians who were told by this government not to visit loved ones.’
She added, ‘Meanwhile, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been denied basic human rights and detained in communist Chinese prisons for over two years, with limited access to their families and consular support.’
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