U.S., Canada call on China to release detained Canadians

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Canada has called for the immediate release of two of its nationals detained in China.

"We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of two Canadians earlier this month and call for their immediate release", Freeland's statement reads.

A top executive of Chinese telecom giant Huawei was arrested in Canada on December 1 at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to face charges that she and her company misled banks about the company's business dealings in Iran.

Detention of foreign nationals should be guided by rule of law, not politics and Canada is abiding by its extradition treaty commitments, with full due process, in its arrest of Meng, Freeland said.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on December 1, while she was transferring flights and is being sought for extradition to the US.

Moreover, Canada has clearly tied itself with the US' interests and lost its independence over sovereignty, which damaged its worldwide image as people from other countries may have second thoughts about visiting Canada over concerns of unwarranted detention, Li Haidong, a professor at the Beijing-based China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday.

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Chinese analysts said that the incident deeply and profoundly hurt Chinese people's long-establishing friendly feelings to Canada, who may react intensely if the Canadian side fails to correct its mistakes.

The two men were detained in China, Canada's second-largest trading partner, shortly after the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was personally involved in the situation, Freeland said, although she declined to say if or when Trudeau would pick up the phone and call Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In May 2018, Meng says she had surgery to remedy health issues related to sleep apnoea and still has difficulty eating solid foods - which has caused her to modify her diet.

The BBC reported that ICG spokesman Karim Lebhour claims Mr Kovrig has been denied access to a lawyer, while an unnamed source told Reuters he is being questioned three times a day and is not permitted to turn the lights off in his cell at night.

Huawei, in a brief statement emailed to The Associated Press, said "we have every confidence that the Canadian and USA legal systems will reach the right conclusion".

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"This has not been a political decision by Canada", Freeland said.

"That's a point that has really resonated".

A profile of Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is displayed on a Huawei computer at a Huawei store in Beijing on Thursday.

The EU issued a statement reading, "The declared motive for the arrest and detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, both Canadian nationals, raises concerns about legitimate research and business practices in China".

Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, is staying in Beijing over Christmas to continue meeting with the two detainees and pushing for their release, Ms. Freeland said in the bilingual briefing Saturday.

With the situation now in its third week, Canada's allies have stepped into the breach. Wanzhou has been granted bail for $10 million by a B.C. Supreme Court judge, $7.5 million of which must be cash.

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