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China probing two Canadians

14 Décembre 2018

He also dismissed concerns that the two cases are politically motivated and may have unsettled Canadians living and working in China.

On Thursday, China's ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye criticized the Canadian government for displaying "unreasonable behaviour" over Meng's arrest and release on bail. Kovrig had been reported as missing earlier this week.

Canadian officials said they were informed of Kovrig's detention early on Wednesday via fax.

The Canadian embassy has been notified of the detentions, he added, declining to provide further details of the investigations. China is the biggest buyer of Canadian canola, an oilseed used in everything from salad dressing to french fries, and could be vulnerable to trade action, Townsend said.

China on Thursday confirmed it has detained two Canadian men, raising the stakes in a three-way global dispute over the case of a Chinese telecoms executive facing possible extradition from Canada to the United States.

Some of Canada's biggest banks and insurers have operations in China, with some ties going back 200 years, including Bank of Montreal, which has a 28 per cent stake in a Chinese money manager. She has been accused by US prosecutors of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating sanctions.

The prime minister's comments on the Chinese arrests come as officials in Beijing vent frustration over Canada's role in the Huawei executive's case. She was arrested December 1 at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to face bank fraud charges.

Canadian officials say a wide range of topics was planned for their talks, including Russia-Ukraine tensions and issues related to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but the ongoing tensions with China will definitely be on the table.

Kovrig, who works for the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, was being investigated by the Beijing bureau of state security, while the agency's office in northeast Liaoning province was handling the probe into Spavor, Lu said. "We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we have also raised this case with the Chinese authorities".

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Ontario Canada Dec 12 2018. REUTERS
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Phone calls, messages and emails to Spavor went unanswered. He was expected to arrive in South Korea's capital this week but never showed up.

The Canadian foreign ministry identified the second Canadian as Michael Spavor.

"While my work obligations have typically required that I travel extensively, I always try to spend at least 2-3 weeks in Vancouver every summer", she said in court documents.

A native of Alberta, Spavor studied global relations at the University of Calgary and then in South Korea, according to a biography posted to the Paektu website. The website for the organization says it is "a non-profit social enterprise" dedicated to cross-cultural exchanges, trade, and investment between North Korea and "international organizations, businesses, and individuals to promote greater peace, friendship, and understanding".

It also says it maintains an "array of contacts" within North Korea and is "nonpolitical".

The website for Paektu Cultural Exchange, the organization Spavor founded, says it is "dedicated to facilitating sustainable co-operation, cross-cultural exchanges, tourism, trade, and economic exchanges between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and worldwide organizations, businesses, and individuals".

"They want to send a signal that they don't want outsiders in China to deal with North Korea".

Although valued at a hefty C$5.6 million, the house - on a large corner lot with a view of the Pacific coast city's majestic north shore mountains - does not stand out as particularly ostentatious.

China probing two Canadians