China Walks the Talk on 'Consequences' for Canada As It Detains Former Canadian Diplomat
Michael Kovrig, an ex-diplomat from Canada has been arrested by China (Photo: Crisis Group)

In what seems to be an obvious tit-for-tat to Canada’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese authorities have arrested a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig.

The Canadian government confirmed his arrest on Tuesday and said the Chinese authorities had yet to provide any information on the charges.

"Obviously we are aware of the situation of a Canadian detained in China," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "We have been in direct contact with the Chinese diplomats and representatives. We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously, and we are providing consular assistance to the family."

Kovrig’s arrest comes barely 48 hours after China warned Canada of “consequences” if Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s Chief Financial officer was not immediately released. Wanzhou was arrested in the Canadian city of Vancouver on a provisional warrant issued by the U.S. She has been granted bail set at CAD $10 million.

Michael Kovrig worked as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing and Hong Kong until 2016, and worked on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's 2016 visit to China. He was currently working as an adviser to the International Crisis Group, which also confirmed his detention Tuesday.

"International Crisis Group is aware of reports that its North East Asia Senior Adviser, Michael Kovrig, has been detained in China," the think-tank said in a statement.

"We are doing everything possible to secure additional information on Michael's whereabouts, as well as his prompt and safe release."

Apart from detaining Kovrig, China seems to be unofficially targeting Canadian luxury outdoor-wear brand Canada Goose. Canada Goose manufactures expensive jackets and winter parkas. Chinese social media users on the country’s Twitter-version Weibo have proposed boycotting the company's products as payback for Meng's detention in Canada.

The movement gained steam after Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times highlighted the boycott movement. Canada Goose’s shares have fallen more than 20% ever since news of Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Canada became public.