China Detains Another Canadian, 12 Taiwanese Amid Rising Tensions

A group of tourists stand by the Bund near the Huangpu river across the Pudong New Financial district, in Shanghai on March 14, 2016. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)



July 14, 2019 Updated: July 14, 2019

A Canadian citizen has been detained in the Chinese city of Yantai, a Canadian government spokesman said on July 13, an incident that comes amid chilly diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Global Affairs, as Canada’s foreign ministry is known, didn’t provide further details or say whether the case was related to the detention of 16 foreign teachers and students earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, 12 Taiwanese securities analysts were also detained in Shanghai on July 7, Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council said on July 13.

Relations between China and Canada nosedived last December after Vancouver police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co, on a U.S. arrest warrant. Beijing has repeatedly demanded Meng’s return, and has warned of “severe consequences” if Canada doesn’t release her.

Meng is indicted in the United States on charges of fraud relating to violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

After Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and business consultant Michael Spavor, accusing them of involvement in stealing state secrets.

The Globe and Mail reported on Jan. 3 that Global Affairs spokesman Guillaume Bérubé said that at least 13 Canadians had been detained in China since Meng was arrested last year.

Bérubé confirmed that eight of the 13 detained Canadians have been released.

Besides Kovrig and Spavor, another Canadian in China, Robert Schellenberg, was sentenced to death in January for his involvement in a drug case, an escalation of his previous 15-year prison term. A second Canadian man, Fan Wei, was given the death penalty in April for drug offenses.

On July 9, police in Xuzhou, a city in northern China’s Jiangsu Province, said it had detained 19 people on drug-related charges and that 16 of them were foreigners. Yantai is about 385 miles from Xuzhou.

The British Embassy in Beijing said on July 12 that four British nationals were arrested as part of the drug raid in Xuzhou.

China’s state radio said some of the detained individuals were teachers at an English education center operated by EF Education First, a privately held Swiss firm that operates in 114 countries.

Nine Taiwanese Released

Of the 12 Taiwanese securities analysts detained on July 9, nine were released after they posted bail, while the remaining three are still detained under unspecified criminal charges, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said.

According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA), all of the analysts work for Thousand & Billion Education and Trading Co., a Shanghai-based company that offers securities-related programs and lessons.

CNA, citing an insider from the company, reported that the analysts didn’t have licenses to engage in securities-related work in mainland China, but only had Taiwanese licenses.

Thousand & Billion Education told CNA that the company had “not experienced any abnormalities.” But the company suspended its programs on July 9, citing a system failure. The programs weren’t restored until July 14.

The arrests occurred just one day after the U.S. State Department approved a possible sale to Taiwan of $2.2 billion worth of military equipment, including M1A2T Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles.

The detention also came two days before Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen stayed in New York for two nights on July 11, while in transit to the Caribbean, a trip that has angered the Chinese regime, which views the self-ruled democratic island as a wayward province.

Reuters contributed to this report.