Death sentence against Canadians: Growing tensions between China and Canada

Death sentence against Canadians: Growing tensions between China and Canada

Relations between Chin and Canada have been severely strained since early December when Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, on a U.S. extradition warrant.

She faces extradition to the U.S. where she is accused of violating American sanctions against Iran, charges she denies.

36-year old Robert Schellenberg, the Canadian sentenced to death in China, says he was framed for drug smuggling. The Chinese media began republicizing Schellenberg's case after Meng's detention.

On Tuesday, Beijing took the opportunity to warn Canada again of "serious consequences" over the arrest of Ms Meng, calling it "an abuse of judicial procedures".

"This syndicate. does not just spread drugs in one country, the problem has spread across is a harm to human health and also to the stability of countries", the court said.

Schellenberg's lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said prosecutors had not introduced new evidence to justify a heavier sentence during the one-day trial, during which Schellenberg again maintained his innocence. Upon receiving a sentence of 15 years in prison, he appealed the verdict.

He declined to elaborate on the significance or to comment specifically on whether recent developments were linked to Meng.

'The trial will also send the message that China won't yield to outside pressure in implementing its law, ' it said. A month later, an upper court took up his appeal and ordered a hasty retrial in the northeastern city of Dalian after ruling that the punishment was too lenient.

Last month, Canada arrested an official of China's Huawei telecoms giant. He said his country will try to intervene.

After Monday's sentence was announced, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed "extreme concern" that China had "chosen to arbitrarily" apply the death penalty in Schellenberg's case. He allegedly attempted to organize the smuggling of 222 kilograms of methamphetamines into Australia.

Canada has formally petitioned China not to follow through with the execution of a Canadian convicted of being an accessory to drug-smuggling.

His case is expected to be reviewed by higher courts.

Observers say that Mr. Schellenberg may have become a bargaining chip in a nasty back-and-forth between China and the United States.

Former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, told theGlobe and Mailthat at least two Canadian citizens have previously been executed in China for drug crimes, despite objections from previous Canadian prime ministers.

Days after Meng's arrest, Kovrig and Canadian businessman Michael Spavor were detained on vague national security allegations. A third Canadian detained in December, a teacher named Sarah McIver, was returned to Canada.

China's abrupt retrial of Schellenberg "is suspicious, to say the least", tweeted Roland Paris, a University of Ottawa professor of global affairs and a former adviser to the Trudeau government.

Ren Zhengfei, Huawei's reclusive billionaire founder and Meng's father, broke a years-long silence this week to insist his company doesn't help Chinese intelligence services.

"Personally, I don't see a connection between these cases and Meng Wanzhou", he said.

Retaliating against Canada, widely seen as a benign influence on the global order, also offers fewer dividends for China than confronting the US, which is regarded by many in the worldwide community as at least as much of a bully as China, Zweig said.

"Continuing that dialogue is very important".

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