BEIJING — China’s ambassador to Canada has said that “Western egotism and white supremacy” were behind calls for Beijing to release two detained Canadians, further straining relations between the countries after the arrest in Canada last month of a Chinese technology executive.
The ambassador, Lu Shaye, wrote on Wednesday in an op-ed for The Hill Times, an Ottawa-based newspaper, that Canadians were applying “double standards” to the cases.
Some Canadians, he wrote, argued that their country was merely enforcing the law when it arrested Meng Wanzhou, the finance chief of the Chinese technology giant Huawei, but insisted that Beijing was out of line when it detained two Canadians soon after.
“It seems that, to those people, the laws of Canada or other Western countries are laws and must be observed,” Mr. Lu wrote, “while China’s laws are not and shouldn’t be respected.”
Asked for comment on Thursday, Guillaume Bérubé, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, said: “We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of two Canadians last month and reiterate our call for their immediate release.”
Ms. Meng’s arrest, which was carried out at the request of the United States, set off a fury in China, where many view it as an attack on Huawei for political purposes.
The United States has long distrusted the company, which makes smartphones, microchips and telecommunications equipment, considering it a possible conduit for espionage and sabotage of Americans. Huawei has denied that it spies for Beijing.
But American counterintelligence agents and federal prosecutors have investigated the company on national security grounds for years. And in August, a judge in New York issued a warrant for Ms. Meng’s arrest on charges of bank fraud. According to Canadian officials, the United States has accused Ms. Meng of tricking banks into carrying out transactions involving Huawei-controlled entities that violated American sanctions on Iran.
Canada, where Ms. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1 while changing planes, has found itself caught in the middle of a clash between the countries with the world’s biggest economies.
Less than a week after the Canadian government announced Ms. Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadian citizens, accusing them of undermining Chinese national security. The Chinese authorities have not elaborated on their reasons for holding the men: Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman. But the detentions were viewed by many as an effort to seek leverage in negotiations over Ms. Meng’s fate.
The standoff escalated after a third Canadian was held in China, on accusations of working without a valid visa. In late December, a Chinese court also ordered the retrial of a Canadian man on a drug-smuggling charge. Prosecutors argued that his original 15-year prison sentence had been too light.
Ms. Meng, meanwhile, has been released on bail by a Canadian court, and is living under surveillance in one of her homes in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadian legal authorities will decide whether she should be extradited to the United States; Beijing has called for her immediate release.
“It seems that, to some people, only Canadian citizens shall be treated in a humanitarian manner and their freedom deemed valuable, while Chinese people do not deserve that,” Mr. Lu wrote in his op-ed.
The ambassador also said that people in the West had applied double standards in their treatment of Huawei itself. Canadians, he wrote, had “conveniently ignored” revelations about global surveillance activities by the United States and its allies.
“Something is considered as ‘safeguarding national security’ when it is done by Western countries,” Mr. Lu wrote. “But it is termed ‘conducting espionage’ when done by China.”
Orignially published in NYT.