China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday that another Canadian citizen has been arrested, this time on drug offenses. The Canadian foreign ministry, Global Affairs Canada, announced on Saturday that a Canadian had received consular services while under detention.
Tensions between Canada and China have been running high ever since Canada detained Huawei telecom executive Meng Wanzhou in December and began proceedings to extradite her to the United States to face charges of bank fraud and sanctions evasion.
Many have viewed China’s arrests of several Canadians since December with suspicion as retaliation for Meng’s arrest or efforts to pressure Canada to release her. Meng has been living very comfortably under house arrest at one of her mansions in Canada, while the Canadians arrested by China face much more uncertain or unpleasant conditions.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the latest imprisoned Canadian was arrested in the eastern city of Yantai in the province of Shandong.
The ministry stated the unnamed Canadian’s case was not related to a string of drug arrests in Jiangsu province in early July that included 16 foreign citizens. Four of those detainees were British citizens employed as foreign language instructors in China.
A former Canadian official told the New York Times the new arrest might be related to the crackdown in Jiangsu despite China’s denials, or it “could have been a way for China to send another signal to Canada that it wants the Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, to be released.”
The Times noted that in addition to arrest and detention, China has been using “exit bans” to prevent foreigners who visit China from leaving and build pressure for Meng’s release. The Chinese have also blocked Canadian agricultural imports to apply economic pressure.
Canada’s National Post on Sunday relayed warnings that China might attempt to interfere in Canada’s next election:
In a provocative online column published last week, J. Michael Cole, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, wrote that Ottawa now “needs to contend with the possibility of interference by Beijing” in the upcoming federal election and that “vigilance will be key.”
The Chinese regime, he wrote, likely regards the election as “an opportunity to secure Meng’s release and to engineer the election of a future government that is more to its liking.”
Don’t be surprised, Cole wrote, to see the Chinese Communist Party target other export-reliant parts of the country, “with the aim of alienating those ridings from the current government in Ottawa.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang made comments on Monday that implied the new Canadian detainee is one of several foreign students that were involved in drug offenses.