Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was asked how the detained Canadians are being treated, amid reports that Canadian ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig is not able to see a lawyer or turn off the lights.
“We have already said that China has in accordance with the law guaranteed Michael Kovrig’s lawful rights and humanitarian treatment,” Hua said.
“I don’t know whether you paid attention to the treatment or the human rights of the Chinese citizen who was illegally detained in Canada at the request of the United States?” she then retorted, referring to Huawei’s Meng.
Hua’s answer indirectly linked the cases. Officials in both countries have so far denied that they are related.
WATCH: Trudeau defends de-escalating China situation to bring Canadians home
Canadian officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, have so far stressed that China has not drawn an explicit link between the cases of the three detained Canadians and Meng’s arrest in Vancouver.
In response to the Chinese official’s comments, a Canadian government official reiterated to Global News on Friday that China has not made a direct connection between the arrests.
But Beijing-based Western diplomats and former Canadian diplomats have said they believed the detention of the Canadians were a “tit-for-tat” reprisal by China.
While Canadians are still detained in China, Meng was granted bail last week. Among conditions of her bail, the 46-year-old executive must wear an ankle monitor and stay at her British Columbia home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.
If a Canadian judge rules the case against Meng is strong enough, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould must next decide whether to extradite her to the United States. If so, Meng would face U.S. charges of conspiracy to defraud multiple financial institutions.
The case has been made more complicated since U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he would be willing to intervene in Meng’s case if it helps him to leverage a better trade deal with China.
WATCH: Trudeau explains why detainment of 3rd Canadian by China different
Details are minimal on the detentions of the Canadians — Kovrig, Michael Spavor and Sarah McIver.
Kovrig who was detained in China on suspicion of endangering the country’s national security, is being held in a secret location where he’s being questioned three times a day and can’t turn off a light before he goes to sleep at night, reports said on Thursday.
Bloomberg spoke to a person “familiar with the situation,” who said Kovrig will only be allowed a single consular visit each month.
So far, he’s met with Canadian Ambassador John McCallum in Beijing once, when he appeared stressed but unhurt.
The second detained Canadian, Spavor, was also granted consular access, but there haven’t been many updates in that case. A Chinese official said the Calgary-born entrepreneur was also arrested on suspicion of “endangering national security.”
Spavor runs an organization that promotes exchanges with North Korea by running hockey tournaments and student study trips.
McIver is the third detained Canadian, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated her case is more “routine” than the other two.
Hua has said McIver’s arrest is related to “illegal employment.”
— With files from Global News reporters Jesse Ferreras, Kaylen Small and Reuters