September 24, 2021

La Ronge Northerner

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China | Michael Spover gets 11 years in prison

Michael Spear, a Canadian man arrested in China nearly three years ago for “spying”, was sentenced on Wednesday to 11 years in prison. Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to the country, immediately condemned the decision.


Florence Morin-Martell

Florence Morin-Martell
Press

The verdict was handed down this morning in a court in Dandong, northeast of the country. “We condemn this decision,” Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, said in a statement. There is an opportunity to appeal. This (Michael Spear) is going to discuss with his lawyers. ”

The latter, the director of the cultural organization, was arrested on December 10, 2018. Arrested on the same day for the same reasons and charged with espionage, former diplomat Michael Gowrick is still unaware of his fate. The two were interrogated last March, behind closed doors at intervals of a few days.

A few hours before the Chinese court’s decision on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mark Carnegie said on Twitter that releasing the two was a “priority”. He recalled that Canadians were “arbitrarily detained in China.”

These events indicate that relations between the Canadian government and its Chinese counterpart are at a “very low” level.

1There is In December 2018, Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States. The latter accused him of fraud in violation of US sanctions against Iran. Since then, China has been pushing for the release of the Ottawa leader. The Chinese government deserves this gesture as Washington’s “political” maneuver.

Many raised the diplomatic environment surrounding the arrests of Canadians, which occurred just days after the Chinese businessman was arrested. Ari Van Aske, a professor of international affairs at the HEC Montreal, argues that China’s detention “appears to be a form of revenge.”

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Christiaan Freeland, Canada ‘s foreign minister at the time of the incident, said she was concerned about the situation. She asked Michael to “release her immediately”.

A week ago, investigations into the deportation of Meng Wancho began in Vancouver. A Chinese court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of Robert Schellenberg, who was sentenced to death for drug trafficking. He was first jailed in November 2018 and his sentence was amended in January 2019 after the arrest of the Hawaiian director.

Bilateral relations are “very low”

According to Lynette Ong, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, relations between Canada and China are historically “extremely low”.

According to Ari Van Ashe, the current situation is first and foremost explained by China’s political and economic rise. In this case, the Chinese government wants to establish the rules of the game in foreign policy. “China has decided to give its strengths more concessions in its favor,” he notes.

Some of Canada’s decisions, including the arrest of Meng Wancho, contributed to the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the two countries. “Canada has released some commendable statements about Hong Kong and Uyghurs,” said Ari Van Ashe.

Lynette Ong, for her part, believes that after the two Michael rulings and the decision to deport Meng Wancho, the two countries should reconsider their diplomatic relations. According to Ari Van Ashe, the reaction of the United States and the European Union will be one to watch out for.

Now that the conviction has been handed down, it could affect the decision of Canadians who wanted to go to China for courses or entrepreneurship. “There will be a lot more fear to go there and do business there,” Ari Van Ashe concluded.

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Trade, tourism and commerce in North Korea

Michael Spover, originally from Calgary, had been in Dandong, on the North Korean border, for some years. From there, he toured Pyongyang.

For a decade, the Canadian was a link between North Korean officials and foreigners, including businessmen, companies and tourists. In particular, he arranged visits to the country by former basketball player Dennis Rodman.

With Agencies France-Press