Chinese authorities have detained Canadian businessman Michael Spavor, the second Canadian citizen arrested in China this week, and Canada is increasingly concerned that China is retaliating over Canada's arrest of Chinese business executive Meng Wanzhou at America's request. Chinese officials said Thursday that Spavor, an entrepreneur with longstanding ties to North Korea, is being investigated on suspicion of harming China's state security. The former Canadian diplomat arrested Monday night, Michael Kovrig, is being investigated on the same charge, Chinese state media reports.
The U.S. accuses Meng of conspiring to mislead banks about her company, telecom giant Huawei, violating sanctions against Iran, but President Trump suggested on Tuesday that he might intervene in the case, tying Meng's arrest to his trade spat with China and U.S. national security. Canada protested Trump's apparent politicization of what Canadian and U.S. officials strongly insist is a solely legal affair.
China has not linked the detention of the Canadians to Meng's arrest, but "in China there is no coincidence," Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said after Kovrig's arrest. "Unfortunately Canada is caught in the middle of this dispute between the U.S and China." Still, "the detention of Kovrig and possible detention of Spavor reflect an increasingly bold approach to international disputes under President Xi Jinping," The Associated Press notes. "China has often retaliated against foreign governments and corporations in diplomatic disputes, but rarely by holding foreign nationals."