Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan is seen during a news conference, Thursday May 7, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canadian defence minister calls out China for ‘hostage diplomacy’

China has been greatly expanding its military presence and claims of territory in the South China Sea

Canada’s defence minister described China’s continued detention of two Canadians as “hostage diplomacy” on Wednesday and urged the NATO military alliance to keep tabs on the increasingly assertive Asian giant.

Harjit Sajjan made the comments during a wide-ranging panel discussion hosted by Slovakian think tank Globsec, nearly two years after Chinese authorities first detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor.

The two were arrested separately shortly after Canadian authorities in Vancouver detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, who is wanted in the United States on fraud charges.

Meng, who has denied any wrongdoing, is now facing possible extradition to the U.S. while Chinese authorities have indicted the detained Canadians on what many observers believe are trumped-up spying charges.

Sajjan raised the cases of Kovrig and Spavor, whose access to Canadian consular officials has been limited and who are reportedly being kept in cells where the lights are never turned off, in response to a question about the security threat posed by China.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to talk about our two Canadians who have both been arbitrarily detained in China,” he said during a panel discussion that also included his counterparts from Slovakia and Latvia.

“This type of hostage diplomacy is not what good rules-based-order nations do. So if you want to be part of the global rules-based order, we need to have greater predictability. And these are the types of things that go against the norm.”

The minister went on to thank NATO allies for supporting Ottawa’s calls for Beijing to release the two Canadians. Their cases, along with the detention of Meng in Vancouver since December 2018, has become the focal point for relations between Canada and China.

While Sajjan suggested Canada and China continue to enjoy a strong relationship “when it comes to some aspects of our trade,” he cited Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea as one example where it poses a security challenge.

China has been greatly expanding its military presence and claims of territory in the South China Sea despite opposition from of its neighbours as well as international rulings against some of its claims.

“These are some of the things that we will continue to monitor, and we need to monitor in NATO,” Sajjan said.

“That’s why we always talk about NATO needs to look 360. This is not just about being reactionary to a problem. It’s about making sure any nation out there sees the collective will of what NATO brings to the table and that’s that strong message of defence and deterrence.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

China

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

Just Posted

The Sicamous Fire Department was able to use their ladder truck to rescue a cat which had been stuck in a tree. (Chelsea Bowman-Facebook)
Sicamous firefighters rescue cat from tree

Rescue also an opportunity to train with ladder truck

Ahead of the provincial election on Oct. 24, Enderby residents put their questions to the Shuswap riding’s three candidates: Greg Kyllo for the BC Liberal Party, Sylvia Lindgren for the BC NDP and Owen Madden for the BC Green Party. The candidates recorded their answers in videos distributed by the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce. (Salmon Arm Observer image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Shuswap candidates answer Enderby’s top election questions

The candidates submitted video responses for an all-candidates forum ahead of the Oct. 24 election

Shuswap BC NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren reports several campaign signs have recently been damaged or removed. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap BC NDP candidate says campaign signs stolen and damaged

Sylvia Lindgren says with pandemic, signs are more important to candidates this election

Curtis Sagmoen
Public warning issued to North Okanagan sex trade workers

RCMP warns workers to stay away from Salmon River Road area

From left, city workers Hugh Bennett, Chris Carr and Teneal Crossman secure the fountain they’ve just removed from McGuire Lake on Oct. 21, 2020 before the ice moves in. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm fountain disappears along with summer

No more fountain in McGuire Lake as winter preparations begin

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Kelowna Capital News)
B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Penticton law courts. (Black Press file)
Osoyoos man in court for alleged shooting

The Oct. 11 shooting left a man with non-life threatening injuries

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Princeton man on motor scooter refuses to provide breath test to police

The scooter did not have a license plate and was not insured

The Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP located a hidden compartment in a vehicle, leading to a significant drug seizure, police said in a media release Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (RCMP photo)
Vernon RCMP find illicit drugs in hidden vehicle compartment

Police seized 4 kg of methamphetamine from a Jeep involved in a violent hit and run March 24

Most Read