Court dates set for two Canadians detained in China on espionage charges

Hearings set for Kovrig, Spavor; two Canadians detained in China since 2018

China sets court hearings for Canadian duo on spying charges

The two Canadians have been detained since December 2018 and were charged in June previous year with spying.

"Despite several official requests to Chinese authorities, Canadian officials have not yet received permission to attend the trials", Global Affairs spokesperson Christelle Chartrand said.

"We believe these detentions are arbitrary and remain deeply troubled by the lack of transparency surrounding these proceedings", he told reporters.

Spavor is being held in Dandong while Kovrig was jailed in Beijing. "The incidence of anybody who is charged being found not guilty is infinitesimal, especially in something in this high profile". It is scheduled to wrap up in May, barring appeals.

Messrs. Spavor and Kovrig were arrested by Chinese state security officials in December 2018 soon after Ms. Meng was snatched by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the behest of USA officials during a stopover in Vancouver, where she has a residence. She is charged with lying to American banks about Huawei's alleged dealings with Iran, in violation of USA sanctions.

Meng, 49, is accused of having lied to the HSBC investment bank about Huawei's relationship with subsidiary Skycom, putting the bank at risk of violating the sanctions as it continued to clear U.S. dollar transactions for Huawei.

The charges against Ms. Meng were undeniably Trumped up - and are apparently still useful to the U.S. Administration of President Joseph Biden.

Critics and allies alike have described their detention as retribution for Canada's role in detaining Meng, now at the centre of an ongoing extradition hearing in Vancouver.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sought support from US President Joe Biden to counter Chinese influence.

It's generally agreed the timing now of the Two Michaels' trials - the outcome of which we are constantly reminded by Canadian media are a foregone conclusion - was intended by China to send a message to the Biden Administration, which will commence its first talks with senior Chinese officials in Alaska today.

On Wednesday, Kovrig's wife, Vina Nadjibulla, told the CBC that the trial date means time is running out for her husband to be freed through diplomacy.

"We suspected that this day was coming and that it was coming soon", she said.

Freelance reporter Patrick Fok says the timing of the espionage trials in China for Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig may be linked to trade talks between the US and China.

Rather than cut the Gordian knot and simply let Ms. Meng go, the Trudeau Government has placed all its chips on a timid bet the United States will spring the Two Michaels without us having to defy the American Imperium.

Blinken also cheered the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations, a Canadian initiative comprising a coalition of more than 50 countries opposed to the state-sponsored political detention of foreign nationals.

The Canadian parliament also provoked China's ire by voting to label its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang as genocide.

Meng's lawyers have argued that she is "a bargaining chip - a pawn - in an economic contest between two global superpowers", and that former U.S. president Donald Trump "poisoned" her chances for a fair trial when he said that he might intervene in her case in exchange for Chinese trade concessions. She remains under house arrest in her Vancouver mansion.

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