Global Affairs Canada says a Canadian citizen has been detained in Yantai, China, but it remains unclear whether the detention is related to drug allegations involving several foreigners.

The federal department said Saturday that officials have provided consular services to the person in custody, but declined to provide any further details about the case because of provisions of the Privacy Act.

Global Affairs would not comment on whether the Canadian was involved in the detention by Chinese police of seven foreign teachers and nine foreign students on drug allegations in the same region.

According to the Associated Press, Xuzhou city police said three Chinese citizens were also detained. Xuzhou is about 700 kilometres south of Beijing.

Gordon Houlden, Director of the University of Alberta’s China Institute, said there are plenty of unanswered questions about the circumstances of the detention.

“We don’t know where the person normally resides… what were they doing? What are the allegations? We need a lot more information,” Houldentold CTV News Channelon Saturday.

Tensions between Canada and China have been escalating since the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhouin Vancouver last December. Days later, China detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.

“There are two kinds of detentions in China. One is those who are arrested, in theory, of having committed a crime… And then there is the political arrest, such as the detention of the two Michaels,” Houldensaid.

“If it is a political detention—and the odds are it’s not—I think China would be exceptionally foolish to broaden that category to add others.”

The British Embassy said Friday that it is also providing consular assistance to four of its citizens who were among those detained over drug allegations.

It remains unclear where the teachers worked, but the Education First language school expressed regret for a drug-related incident and said it is co-operating with authorities, according to the Canadian Press.

The school did not confirm the nationalities of those involved.

“Ottawa will want to know if this is a rising of the ante, is this a deliberate strike against us? My guess is probably not, but we’re still in a fog,” said Houlden.

“Keep in mind we have, in greater China, almost half a million citizens living there. The vast majority in Hong Kong, about 350,000, and a considerable number on the mainland. So there is going to be a certain number of cases that arise of people getting themselves into trouble.”

- With files from The Canadian Press