Communist China released the two Canadians known as the “Two Michaels” after the United States Justice Department dropped charges against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
While the communist regime in Beijing has consistently denied that Huawei is a state-run company or that they imprisoned Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in response to charges levied against the daughter of the founder of the company, Meng Wanzhou, the two men were coincidently released within hours of the United States coming to an agreement with Huawei to allow their CFO to return to China in exchange for admitting wrongdoing.
Ms Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December of 2018 at the behest of the American government, which accused the tech company heiress of starting international sanctions by supplying tech to Iran. Just nine days after her arrest, two Canadian citizens were arrested in an apparent tit-for-tat move.
China has denied operating hostage diplomacy, yet they were both imprisoned on espionage charges without evidence for over three years. Further highlighting the vindictive nature of the communist government, the UK has warned activists not to travel to countries with extradition treaties with China to prevent falling prey to political imprisonment.
Over the past three years, Mr Kovrig and Mr Spavor, known internationally as the “Two Michaels”, have been subjected to being confined to small, dank prison cells in China. In contrast, Ms Meng has been free to roam a 100 square-mile zone around Vancouver, reportedly spending her time oil painting in a mansion.
Hailing the return of his citizens, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “These two men have gone through an unbelievably difficult ordeal,” adding: “For the past thousand days they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience and grace, and we are all inspired by that.”
The Canadian PM, who was narrowly returned to power for the next four years in a snap election just days ago, did not comment on the case’s impact on Sino-Canadian relations, but said “There is going to be time for reflection and analysis in the coming days and weeks. But the fact of the matter is, I know Canadians will be incredibly happy to know right now, this Friday night, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are on a plane and they’re coming home.”
Trudeau trying to spin this as a victory is What actually happened:
1. Weng Wanzhou charged with massive fraud in
2. Completely innocent 2 Michaels held hostage in 🇳for 1000 days+
3. Canada agrees to exchange Weng for the hostages.
Clear win for 🇳 + hostage diplomacy https://t.co/KTE9JUKliQ
— Luke de Pulford 裴倫德 (@lukedepulford) September 25, 2021
Earlier this month, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the “Meng Wanzhou incident and the cases of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are entirely different in nature. The Canadian side, on the one hand, has carried out political persecution against the Chinese citizen in accomplice with the U.S., in total disregard of the U.S. political purposes by plotting the Meng Wanzhou incident and the fact that she didn’t violate any Canadian law.”
“On the other, it has sensationalized the isolated cases of the Canadian citizens and falsely accused China of arbitrary detention and coercive diplomacy. Facts have proved again that what the Canadian side pursues is to confuse right and wrong and shift blames to China. China firmly rejects and strongly condemns that.”
Directly contrasting the claims from the Chinese government, leading state-run mouthpiece The Global Times all but admitted that the charges against Mr Spavor and Mr Korvig were politically motivated.
“Chinese experts on foreign affairs pointed out that the sentence conveyed a signal to other U.S. allies that they will pay heavy price if they insist on being the U.S.’ ‘running dogs’ in its anti-China camp and their citizens would face harsh punishment if they commit crimes in China as their nationality is not a talisman,” the propaganda outlet wrote last month.
The diplomatic row also casts doubt on the independence of Huawei from the communist regime. Countries such as Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Sweden have restricted the Chinese tech giant over national security concerns, with the Trump administration warning ally nations that the company has the ability to create “back door” access for the CCP in mobile telephone networks in foreign countries.
A 2019 research paper from George Washington University in conjunction with Fulbright University Vietnam revealed that Huawei is 99 per cent owned by a so-called “trade union committee” party to the All-China Federation of Trade Unions supervised by the ruling Communist Party.
Ms Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, returned to China on Friday. While the charges against her have been dropped, the U.S. State Department said that it will continue with efforts to charge Huawei over its alleged dealings with Iran.
Veteran China watcher Gordon Chang questioned whether the move to drop charges against Meng Wanzhou was in the national interest of the United States, saying that the affair demonstrated that the Biden administration is “feeble”.
Chinese Communists Put Another Canadian on Trial for 'Spying' https://t.co/xLwnzQ4ZYG
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 22, 2021
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka