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Chinese embassy accuses Canadian politicians of ‘erroneous remarks’ as feud continues

This Dec. 5, 2017, photo shows flags of Canada and China prior to a meeting of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. .
This Dec. 5, 2017, photo shows flags of Canada and China prior to a meeting of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. . Fred Dufour/CP

OTTAWA — The Chinese embassy is taking a swing at “some Canadian politicians” over what it describes as “erroneous remarks” about the relationship between the two countries and the cases of two Canadians detained in China.

The statement posted on the embassy’s website doesn’t specify the politicians or exact comments.

But it appears to have been prompted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments in a French-language interview that aired last week on TVA.

Canada-China relationship ‘incredibly important’ to Canadian government: International Development Minister
Canada-China relationship ‘incredibly important’ to Canadian government: International Development Minister

During the interview, Trudeau said Canada has asked the United States not to sign a free-trade deal with China unless Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are freed.

The Chinese embassy says attempts to “gang up on China” by way of “megaphone diplomacy” and “pressuring China for unrelated matters is doomed.”

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The statement also calls on Canada to release Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested just over a year ago on an extradition request from the U.S., where officials want to try her over fraud allegations.

Days after her arrest at Vancouver’s airport, China detained Spavor and Kovrig.

READ MORE: China says case of 2 detained Canadians has been turned over to prosecutors

While China says the two men were arrested over espionage allegations, their detentions are widely seen as a tit-for-tat response to Meng’s arrest.

Earlier this month, China’s foreign ministry said the Kovrig and Spavor cases had been transferred to prosecutors for review and prosecution.

“China’s judicial authority handles cases in strict accordance with law and their legitimate rights and interests are guaranteed,” the embassy’s statement says.

“The Chinese side urges the Canadian side to earnestly respect the spirit of rule of law and China’s judicial sovereignty and refrain from making irresponsible remarks.”

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In a wide-ranging interview with The Canadian Press last week, Trudeau said he regretted that Kovrig and Spavor have been caught up in the diplomatic row, but didn’t regret that Canada lived up to its extradition-treaty obligations with the United States.

He added that Canada-China relations have been impacted at virtually every level over the last year.

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A number of countries and bodies, including the U.S., Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the G7 and NATO have spoken out in support of the detained Canadians, calling for their release and in support of the rule of law.