Speed Reads

a win for beijing?

China may have just 'strengthened its bargaining position' through 'hostage diplomacy'

China has continuously denied that two Canadian citizens it had held on espionage charges for nearly three years until Friday were hostages, but their quick release after a Huawei executive under arrest in Canada struck a deal with U.S. prosecutors, all but dispels that notion.

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were initially detained in 2018 just days after Vancouver police arrested Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant following accusations that she misled investigators about Huawei's business dealings in Iran (she later admitted to doing so.) Now, everyone is back in their home countries, and it looks like Beijing may have come out on top in the standoff with Ottawa and Washington.

"In a sense, China has strengthened its bargaining position in future negotiations like this," Donald Clarke, a professor specializing in China at George Washington University's Law School, told The New York Times. He added that it should serve as a warning that Beijing is willing to be "boldly transactional with foreign nationals" and "if you give them what they want, they will deliver as agreed."

Brahma Chellaney, a prominent geostrategist, described China's "successful hostage diplomacy" as a "real shot in the arm" for President Xi Jinping and argued that the Biden administration had "vindicated" Beijing's "thuggish" detention of two innocent Canadians. Read more about how the situation could affect the Beijing-Washington relationship at The New York Times.