Michael Kovrig (left) and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians detained in China, are shown in these 2018 images taken from video. Canadian diplomats have been granted consular access to one of two Canadians detained in China. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP)

Canadian students urged to study in China despite Kovrig, Spavor arrests

Two Canadians detained in China nine days after arrest of Huawei executive in Vancouver.

Eight days after Chinese authorities imprisoned Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, a senior Canadian foreign ministry official urged Canadian students to apply for a program to study in China.

Sarah Taylor, the director-general of the north-Asia bureau at Global Affairs Canada, made the pitch for the 45-year-old Canada-China Scholarship Exchange Program during a Dec. 18 event at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.

READ MORE: China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

“My department is proud to support the CCSEP and is eager to see a broader representation of Canadians from across the country, at the university and college level,” Taylor said in prepared remarks released under Canada’s access-to-information law.

The government continues to promote the lucrative exchange program, which has a final application deadline of next Friday, even though it has elevated its travel advisory to China with a warning that Canadians are at “risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Taylor’s remarks might have been well-intended but Canada simply can’t continue to conduct business as usual with China.

“It sends the message to the Chinese that, no matter what we say, we want the relationship to continue as if nothing had happened. I simply can’t see us holding such an event with any other country if they were holding two of our citizens hostage,” said Mulroney, who served as Canadian ambassador to China from 2009 and 2012.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Canada continues to call for the release of Kovrig and Spavor after their arbitrary detentions, but the exchange program is good for relations.

“These exchanges provide international academic experience to both Canadian and Chinese students and researchers — and foster co-operation between our two countries,” he said.

Kovrig and Spavor were detained nine days after the RCMP arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges.

Nine days later, China detained former diplomat Kovrig and entrepreneur Spavor on allegations that they were endangering the country’s national security. China denies the arrests are retaliation for Meng’s detention.

Kovrig and Spavor have not been formally charged, have been denied access to a lawyer or family members, and are being granted only monthly access by Canadian diplomats. Meng has since been released on bail and is living in a Vancouver mansion.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Campbell River nurse looks to grace the cover of Inked magazine

‘I’m at the point in my life where I don’t care what anybody thinks anymore. I’m just going to be me.’

Witnesses assist Campbell River woman in danger

The Campbell River RCMP were called to a report of violence in… Continue reading

Reports of accused human trafficker sighted in Campbell River unsubstantiated

RCMP issue warning about the fears unproven social media reports can generate

City of Campbell River rolls out three year strategic plan

Plan is made up of six ‘pillars’ for how council will make decisions

City of Campbell River highlights benefits of fitness programs for ‘older adults’

New video features participants telling their own stories of how classes improved their lives

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read