Canadian with North Korea ties detained after Huawei arrest

Kim Jong Un shares cocktails with Michael Spavor of the Paektu Cultural Exchange on board the North Korean leader's private yacht in Wonsan North Korea in 2013

A second Canadian citizen who has been questioned by authorities in China is "presently missing", Canadian officials said Thursday, adding to tensions following the arrest of a top Chinese telecom executive on a USA request in Vancouver.

He said Beijing security and state security officials in the city of Dandong, Liaoning Province had taken measures against Spavor and Kovrig.

It gave no further details.

Authorities in China are already holding former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who was detained on Monday.

Earlier this year, Trump drew fire for intervening on behalf of Huawei's smaller Chinese rival, ZTE Corp., after the company was barred from buying United States technology over exports to Iran and North Korea.

"The legal rights and interests of these two Canadians have been safeguarded", Lu told a daily news briefing.

Spavor is the second Canadian to go missing in China this week as tensions rise over the arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

The detention of Meng was not a political decision on Canada's part, Freeland told reporters. The telecom executive, who the U.S.is attempting to extradite, is accused of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of US sanctions, and her detention has enraged Chinese officials.

China's arrest of two Canadians is unacceptable and an example of worrying fallout from a U.S.

On Tuesday a Canadian judge ordered Meng's released on Can$10 million (US$7.5 million) bail, pending a U.S. extradition hearing.

Michael Spavor is seen with former NBA star Dennis Rodman before boarding a flight in Beijing to North Korea
Michael Spavor is seen with former NBA star Dennis Rodman before boarding a flight in Beijing to North Korea

Hu Xijin, editor of the state-backed Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid, said on the Weibo social media platform the Chinese government would never concede that the Canadians' detentions were related to Meng's case. Neither Canada nor China has formally linked the cases.

Canadian officials have been unable to contact Spavor "since he let us know he was being questioned by Chinese authorities", said Canadian Global Affairs spokesman Guillaume Berube.

"Canada is deeply concerned about the detention of Mr Kovrig and Canada has raised the case directly with Chinese officials", Freeland said. Canada Goose representatives didn't immediately respond to phone calls and emails seeking further comment.

"Canada and China mutually agreed to postpone the Canada-China Year of Tourism Closing Ceremony and Minister Joly's planned travel to China", her office said in a statement.

The group says on its website it is "dedicated to facilitating sustainable cooperation, cross-cultural exchanges, activities, trade, and investment" with North Korea. He spent more than 20 years working in the Korean Peninsula, and first visited North Korea in 2001, it said. The Hong Kong-based newspaper previously reported that leading Chinese tech firms have warned employees against all but "essential" travel to the U.S. Those who must travel to North America have reportedly been instructed to remove sensitive data from their electronic devices.

"And I believe it is obvious that democratic countries, such as our partner, the United States, do the same", she said.

Although valued at a hefty Can$5.6 million, the house - on a large corner lot with a view of the Pacific coast city´s majestic north shore mountains - does not stand out as particularly ostentatious. "I'm not sure what he could have done to get in this sort of situation".

In the days since his arrest, the Foreign Ministry has said Kovrig, now a senior adviser with the International Crisis Group, may have also broken China's NGO law if he was carrying out work for the group while in the country.

But Canada has not allowed Huawei to bid on any federal government contracts, and in September 2018, the CSE confirmed that it tests and evaluates "designated equipment and services considered for use on Canadian 3G and 4G/LTE networks, including Huawei".

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