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China calls Trudeau’s accusations of arbitrary detentions ‘purely unfounded’

WATCH: China hopes new Canadian envoy will help get relations 'back on track'

China accused Canada of not abiding by international norms Friday in response to comments from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who accused Beijing of arbitrarily detaining two Canadians.

Trudeau’s remarks are “purely unfounded countercharges that confound black and white,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

READ MORE: Trudeau accuses China of using arbitrary detentions to achieve ‘political goals’

Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou – Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder – on Dec. 1 at the request of the U.S, where she is wanted on fraud charges. In apparent retaliation just days later, China detained two Canadians on suspicion of stealing state secrets.

During a livestreamed conversation with Toronto Star reporters Thursday, Trudeau said China was “using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals.”

The detentions are “of concern not just to Canada, but to all our allies, who have been highlighting that this is not acceptable behaviour in the international community,” Trudeau said.

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The arrested Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, have been denied access to lawyers and their family members since Dec. 10.

When asked about Trudeau’s statements during a daily briefing, Geng replied, “In order to please the political intentions of the U.S., Canada arbitrarily detained the citizen of a third country who did not violate any Canadian laws.”

READ MORE: Dominic Barton will be new Canadian ambassador to China

“China always acted in accordance with the law and does not engage in double standards,” Geng said. “With regards to Canada’s behaviour, the rules it pursues are indeed less consistent with the rules of the international community.”

Following Canada’s arrest of Meng, China has placed restrictions on various Canadian exports, including canola and meat. In January, China handed a death sentence to a convicted Canadian drug smuggler in a sudden retrial.

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