Trudeau disputes China envoy's claims, says 2 Michaels detained on 'trumped up' charges
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took aim at a claim made Wednesday by China’s ambassador to Canada that there is “no connection” between the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the detention of Canadians in China Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
“It is obvious that the two Michaels were arrested on trumped-up national security charges, days after we fulfilled our extradition treaty responsibilities towards our ally, the United States,” Trudeau told reporters during a press conference.
“Chinese officials at the time were very clear that they absolutely were connected… and nothing the ambassador can say now will dissuade me from understanding that that is indeed the case,” the prime minister continued, responding to a comment made by Ambassador Cong Peiwu during a briefing with reporters earlier in the day.
“There's no connection between these cases,” Cong stated, noting the charges of crimes against Chinese national security that the two Canadians are facing. In contrast, he said, what happened to Meng was a “serious political incident created by the United States.” The ambassador once again urged Canada to release Meng.
Kovrig and Spavor have now been held in China for more than 800 days, as the federal government’s push for their release continues, and Meng’s extradition hearing continues in Vancouver, where she has been living under house arrest.
'LIES OF THE CENTURY'
During the briefing, Cong also took aim at the House of Commons’ recent decision to label China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslims a genocide, and to call on the federal government to formally adopt that position.
He called the allegations of genocide and forced labour in Xinjiang “the lies of the century,” and denied that there are any re-education camps or forced sterilization, all of which have been documented in reports gathered by journalists and international human rights advocates.
“The term of genocide is clearly defined in international laws, and it cannot be pinned to China,” Cong said, suggesting certain Western countries were trying to “smear” China.
Cong said that MPs shouldn’t judge when they have not been to China, and said the Chinese government continues to “firmly oppose” any international interference in domestic affairs.
“We will take resolute measures to counter back to safeguard our national interests, and our sovereignty,” Cong said.
The House of Commons vote passed despite the abstention from Trudeau and nearly all of the federal Liberal cabinet. Responding to the comments from the Chinese envoy, the prime minister said that his government will work with international allies to get clear answers about the “very credible reports of human rights abuses.”
“This is something that is much better done on a multilateral basis. Over the past many years including a couple of occasions directly to Chinese leadership, we have expressed our deep concern for the situation facing the Uyghurs,” Trudeau said.