Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan is seen during a news conference, Thursday May 7, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan is seen during a news conference, Thursday May 7, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canadian defence minister calls out China for ‘hostage diplomacy’

China has been greatly expanding its military presence and claims of territory in the South China Sea

Canada’s defence minister described China’s continued detention of two Canadians as “hostage diplomacy” on Wednesday and urged the NATO military alliance to keep tabs on the increasingly assertive Asian giant.

Harjit Sajjan made the comments during a wide-ranging panel discussion hosted by Slovakian think tank Globsec, nearly two years after Chinese authorities first detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

The two were arrested separately shortly after Canadian authorities in Vancouver detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, who is wanted in the United States on fraud charges.

Meng, who has denied any wrongdoing, is now facing possible extradition to the U.S. while Chinese authorities have indicted the detained Canadians on what many observers believe are trumped-up spying charges.

Sajjan raised the cases of Kovrig and Spavor, whose access to Canadian consular officials has been limited and who are reportedly being kept in cells where the lights are never turned off, in response to a question about the security threat posed by China.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to talk about our two Canadians who have both been arbitrarily detained in China,” he said during a panel discussion that also included his counterparts from Slovakia and Latvia.

“This type of hostage diplomacy is not what good rules-based-order nations do. So if you want to be part of the global rules-based order, we need to have greater predictability. And these are the types of things that go against the norm.”

The minister went on to thank NATO allies for supporting Ottawa’s calls for Beijing to release the two Canadians. Their cases, along with the detention of Meng in Vancouver since December 2018, has become the focal point for relations between Canada and China.

While Sajjan suggested Canada and China continue to enjoy a strong relationship “when it comes to some aspects of our trade,” he cited Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea as one example where it poses a security challenge.

China has been greatly expanding its military presence and claims of territory in the South China Sea despite opposition from of its neighbours as well as international rulings against some of its claims.

“These are some of the things that we will continue to monitor, and we need to monitor in NATO,” Sajjan said.

“That’s why we always talk about NATO needs to look 360. This is not just about being reactionary to a problem. It’s about making sure any nation out there sees the collective will of what NATO brings to the table and that’s that strong message of defence and deterrence.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

China

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ecole H.J. Cody School. File Photo
Sylvan Lake high school temporarily moves to online classes

Over the weekend, H.J. Cody reported six positive cases of COVID-19

.
Alberta confirmed more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases Sunday

Central zone active cases slightly up

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Traffic crosses over the Lions Gate Bridge from North Vancouver into Vancouver on July 2, 2015. Motorists would have to pay a fee to drive into downtown Vancouver under the city's plan to slow climate change but one expert warns it could pose financial hardship for some. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver’s climate plan ‘first 10 steps in a journey of 10,000,’ says expert

Almost 40 per cent of Vancouver’s carbon pollution comes from vehicles

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
After COVID-related transplant delays, 16-year-old N.S. girl gets lung transplant

‘This is the difficult time now of seeing Tahlia in ICU hooked up to 15 IVs and sedated’

Britain's Princess Anne The Princess Royal, right, talks to NATO delegates from left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during a reception at Buckingham Palace, in London, as Nato leaders attend to mark 70 years of the alliance, Tuesday Dec. 3, 2019.  While NATO leaders are publicly professing unity as they gather for the London summit, several seem to have been caught in an unguarded exchange on camera apparently gossiping about U.S. President Donald Trump’s behaviour. In footage recorded during the Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain’s Princess Anne. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP)
Canada, Britain strike new trade, beating Brexit, incorporating expiring EU pact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British counterpart, Boris Johnson, announced the deal Saturday

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
An individual in Clearview school division (Stettler and region) has tested positive for COVID-19

Case affects students and staff at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary School, Stettler Elementary School, and Erskine School, officials say

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an announcement at the Ornamental Gardens in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Nix non-essential travel, stay home as much as possible as COVID 2nd wave surges: Trudeau

Trudeau was back outfront Rideau Cottage amid concerning COVID-19 projections from Dr. Theresa Tam

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
School custodians ‘unsung’ heroes during pandemic

Schools have increased the sanitization of key, high-touch areas

Most Read