Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he hasn’t raised the detention of three Canadians over the last week with his Chinese counterpart.
And it appears he has no plans to do so any time soon.
“No, I have not reached out to speak,” he said in a year-end interview with the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson on Wednesday.
WATCH: Trudeau defends deescalating China situation to bring Canadians home
That decision stands in contrast to calls from Trudeau while he was Liberal leader in August 2015 for the former prime minister to directly intervene to secure the release of then-imprisoned Canadian journalist Mohammed Fahmy in Egypt.
At the time, he said “Stephen Harper must call Egyptian President el-Sisi directly and demand the immediate return of Mr. Fahmy to Canada.”
But in a year end press conference held on Wednesday, Trudeau admitted things are not as easy as he once thought when asked why he hasn’t called Xi.
“When I was in opposition, I remember standing in the House and challenging Mr. Harper to pick up the phone and get this Canadian released. I now understand it’s a lot more complicated than that,” he told reporters.
“Sometimes politicizing or amplifying the level of public discourse on this may be satisfying in the short term but would not contribute to the outcome we all want, which is for Canadians to be safe and secure.”
WATCH BELOW: Trudeau explains why detainment of 3rd Canadian by China different
Over the past week and a half, China has detained three Canadian citizens for reasons that remain murky.
In two of the cases — involving Global Affairs Canada employee Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, founder of a tourism company — Chinese officials have said they were detained on allegations of “endangering national security.”
A third individual was also detained on Wednesday morning but the specifics of that case are not yet known.
In the cases of Kovrig and Spavor, Canadian officials have repeatedly said the Chinese have given no direct indication that the detentions are retaliation against Canada for the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou.
Meng, CFO of the Chinese technology company Huawei, was arrested by police in Vancouver earlier this month at the behest of American authorities.
Her company is alleged to have used a subsidiary to skirt U.S. sanctions on Iran.
She was granted bail but faces possible extradition to the U.S. to face those allegations.
The U.S. must submit a formal extradition request by the end of January for the matter to proceed and it is not yet clear whether the Americans will do so.
But there have been questions raised about the potential for political interference in Meng’s case after President Donald Trump said earlier this month he “would certainly intervene” in the case if he thought it could help get a trade deal with China.
Trudeau would not say whether those remarks could end up jeopardizing the potential for extradition or endanger even more Canadians in China.
WATCH BELOW: Trudeau addresses why he would consider letting Huawei conduct business in Canada
“Other countries will make determinations about what they say. We will continue to apply the rule of law,” he said.
“We have communicated our questions to our counterparts in the United States. I have not spoken with the president on this issue yet.”
Huawei has been facing global criticism and wariness over provisions in Chinese law that require companies to spy for the state if requested.
The company’s parts form the backbones of telecommunications infrastructure in many countries, including Canada, and Huawei wants to be allowed to bid on work to build the next generation 5G spectrum expected to come up for auction in 2019 or 2020.
WATCH BELOW: Justin Trudeau addresses whether China should be considered a national security threat
But Five Eyes allies including the United States, Australia and New Zealand have banned the company, arguing it poses an unjustifiable security risk to critical infrastructure.
Canadian national security agencies are currently working on a review of those risks.
Trudeau, however, would say if the detentions of Canadians following the arrest of Meng are raising concerns about Huawei’s trustworthiness and whether they should be approved to take part in the spectrum auction.
“We will take very, very seriously what we need to do to protect Canadians but we will not let politics interfere with that process,” he said of the ongoing review.
“We’re going to make decisions on what is best for Canadians and what is the recommendation from the experts in national security.”
The government has so far refused to say when the review into Huawei and the security of the next generation 5G spectrum will be completed.