Chinese authorities have formally arrested on state secrets charges two Canadians detained past year, the government said on Thursday, drawing condemnation from Canada in a case that is likely to further increase tension between Ottawa and Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Thursday the arrest of Kovrig and Spavor had been approved by "Chinese prosecutorial authorities" and asked Canada to stop "making irresponsible remarks on China's rule of law".
China yesterday said that it has formally arrested two Canadians who have been detained for months on national security grounds.
The two men have had regular access to both Canadian consular officials and their lawyers while in detention.
China is demanding Meng's immediate release and has called on the U.S. to withdraw the extradition request and stop the "unreasonable suppression" of Chinese companies.
Their ongoing detainment in China has led to calls inside of Canada for the country to take a tougher line with Beijing.
The men were detained separately days after the arrest of Huawei.
The 47-year-old daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei made an appearance in a crowded courtroom in Vancouver on May 8 in the latest step in her much-anticipated extradition hearing.
Canadian diplomats have been allowed to visit the two men in detention.
"We will continue to defend these Canadians and we will continue to say clearly to China that its actions are unacceptable", he said, referring to Kovrig, a former diplomat and Spavor, a businessman.
She was arrested at Vancouver's airport in December on a U.S. warrant and is fighting extradition on charges that she conspired to defraud global banks about Huawei's relationship with a company operating in Iran. The order did not specifically identify any country or company, but USA officials have previously labelled Huawei a "threat" and lobbied allies not to use Huawei network equipment in next-generation 5G networks.
After a Canadian court pushed back a decision in Meng's case, the Chinese court also announced it would delay announcing whether Schellenberg would be put to death.
She has been ordered to wear an electronic anklet and hand over her passports after being released on bail in mid-December on a $7.5m bond.
"China is moving the Canadians through its system like pawns on a chessboard, pretending that some kind of due process is being observed".