This Dec. 5, 2017, photo shows flags of Canada and China prior to a meeting of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.The Chinese government is accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being naive in assuming that President Donald Trump did him any favours by raising the case of two imprisoned Canadians with President Xi Jinping. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Fred Dufour, Pool Photo

‘Naive’ of Canada to believe Trump pushed Xi on Kovrig, Spavor: China

China believes Canada is solely responsible for the degeneration of relations between the two countries

The Chinese government is accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being naive in assuming that President Donald Trump did him any favours by raising the case of two imprisoned Canadians with President Xi Jinping.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, was talking Wednesday about Trudeau’s comment a day earlier in Toronto, where he said he was “confident” Trump raised the matter with Xi at the G20 summit in Japan this past weekend.

In an Oval Office meeting last month with Trudeau, Trump said he would raise the plight of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in his planned meeting with Xi, as a favour to Canada.

In December, Canada detained Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. government, which wants to extradite her to face fraud charges.

READ MORE: Extradition hearing for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou set for early next year

Kovrig and Spavor were arrested 10 days later and have been charged with violating China’s national security, but many view their detentions as retaliation for Meng’s arrest.

Trump said before leaving the G20 in Japan that he hadn’t discussed the Meng case with Xi, raising questions about whether he made good on his White House commitment to Trudeau to protest Kovrig’s and Spavor’s detentions.

“I would like to caution the Canadian side against being too naive,” Geng told reporters after he was asked at a Beijing briefing whether Trump raised the matter with Xi.

“First, it shouldn’t be so naive as to believe that asking its so-called ally to pressure China will work. China is a country with the rule of law and the judicial authorities handle cases independently. China’s judicial sovereignty brooks no interference.

“Second, it shouldn’t be so naive as to believe that its so-called ally will earnestly pursue a Canadian agenda. They will only pay a lip service, at best. The matter is, after all, between China and Canada.”

Geng reiterated the Chinese view that Canada is solely responsible for the current degeneration of relations between the two countries. China has repeatedly called on Canada to release Meng.

Since then, Sino-Canadian relations have plunged to a new low.

China has all but stopped importing several Canadian products. Its authorities claim shipments of Canadian canola — for which China is a major market — have been found to be ridden with pests.

READ MORE: At G20, Trudeau highlights plight of Canadians in China, but details scarce

Then, prior to the G20 summit, China announced a suspension of all imports of Canadian meat products because of claimed concerns over fraudulent inspection reports. Canada has acknowledged that at least one shipment of pork went to China with bogus information attached to it but has suggested the certification was so phoney that the shipment might not even have been Canadian. The RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency are investigating.

International Trade Minister Jim Carr scoffed at the suggestion Canada is naive in thinking its allies could help.

“Who are they to say there is no value in Canada talking to its allies about issues that we have abroad in a multilateral system?” he said to reporters following a meeting with Canadian pork- and-beef industry representatives in Montreal. “That’s how we do diplomacy.”

Carr added Canada has had “countless” conversations with allied countries around the world regarding what he described as the current difficult relations with China.

“We talk about those two detained Canadians, we talk of allegations that our canola somehow contains impurities. And our allies are agreeing with us. And in their own way and within their own comfort zones, there are many messages being sent to Chinese officials.”

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau joined Carr in the meat meeting. She told reporters it was too early to talk about compensation for farmers hit by the closure of the Chinese market.

“Our first priority is to reopen the market,” Bibeau said. “We have daily conversations with Chinese authorities, which gives me hope we can find a solution.”

She said talks with China regarding meat exports are moving faster than those about canola.

Bibeau said China is dealing with a breakout of African swine fever affecting its domestic pork industry, “so they have a big demand for pork, in particular. They have a clear motivation to get our products.

“For canola, it’s a little more difficult to exchange information. We still haven’t received evidence of the alleged impurities.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Wednesday Trudeau has done “nothing” to help Kovrig and Spavor.

“He’s relying on the charity now of Donald Trump and other world leaders to do for him what he’s not willing to do for himself, and that’s stand up for this country,” Scheer said in the Yukon capital of Whitehorse.

READ ALSO: Victoria mayor says Chinese reception at B.C. mayors’ convention should continue

The Canadian Press

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

Just Posted

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

Aspiring pot-sellers can apply in two weeks to operate stores in Abbotsford

City will accept applications to operate one of four new stores; public consultation to follow

Nine Abbotsford citizens fleeced for over $68,000 by bitcoin scammers

Police warn public about fraudsters who threaten arrest

Comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

UBC grad and sister killed in Iran plane crash had bright futures ahead, close friend says

Asadi-Lari siblings Mohammad Hussein and Zeynab were two of 57 Canadians aboard downed Flight PS752

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Coronavirus concerns cause cancellation of Langley Lunar New Year celebration

Close to 1,000 were expected to attend the annual Live In Langley event on Saturday

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Most Read