Canada’s foreign affairs department has revealed that China has detained a third Canadian citizen this week but did not provide any details as to the circumstances.
The Canadian government’s Global Affairs department said it was “aware of a Canadian citizen” who has been detained, but said that details were restricted by the Privacy Act. One report in Canadian paper Toronto Star suggests that the individual detained is a woman who was teaching English in China.
This arrest comes as Beijing continues to detain two other Canadians – a former diplomat Michael Kovrig and a businessman Michael Spavor in what is an obviously a tit-for-tat move for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that after discussions with Chinese authorities that this arrest is not in relation to Meng’s detention in Vancouver. Canada’s public broadcaster quoted Trudeau from his year-end news conference after officials from Global Affairs Canada confirmed the third Canadian's arrest.
"The others arrested ... were accused of serious crimes, problems regarding national security, intelligence, so those cases are more serious," Trudeau said in French. "We're currently looking at them.
"We've only got the preliminary indications ... that it's not linked to a matter of national security for the Chinese. The two situations are very different. The allegations of national security problems, even objectively, are very different from a routine case or a problem with a visa or something of that nature."
Trudeau was asked if he felt that he should personally speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping for the release of Kovrig and Spavor.
"When I was in opposition ... I remember standing in the House and challenging (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper to pick up the phone and get this Canadian released. I now understand that it's always a lot more complicated than that," he said. He added a word of caution saying, "Sometimes, politicizing or amplifying the level of public discourse on this may be satisfying in the short term, but would not contribute to the outcome we all want, which is for Canadians to be safe and secure.”