TORONTO — While the saga about the Chinese authorities detaining Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor may be over, the political fallout between the two countries as a result remains unclear.
The two returned to Canada on Saturday morning after spending more than 1,000 days in Chinese custody on espionage charges, largely in retaliation for the Canadian arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a US warrant related to the company’s business dealings in Iran. was seen as a reaction.
While China has consistently denied that the cases were in any way connected, earlier on Friday, a B.C. judge dismissed the extradition case against Meng after US Justice Department officials filed criminal charges against him. An agreement was reached to resolve the issue, allowing Meng to enter into a deferment. Prosecution agreement and leave Canada under certain conditions.
Meng’s arrest at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 sparked a year-long major geopolitical affair over economic sanctions being traded between Canada and China as relations between the two countries entered a deep freeze. Were.
However, now that Kovrig and Spavor have been freed and Meng has returned to China, experts suggest that relations between the two countries may be beginning to melt.
on diplomatic relations
Former Canadian ambassador to Russia and Britain, Jeremy Kinsman, suggested that Michaels and Meng’s release of the deferred prosecution agreement was a way for both countries to emerge as winners.
Kinsman told Granthshala News Channel, “The devil is really in the appearances and making sure that the appearances don’t favor one side rather than the other. Both come out, if not the overall winner, then neither total.” Come out as a loser.” Saturday. “I think that’s the main thing. I think that’s what was achieved here.”
It is also a matter of saving face for China, he said.
“You can’t feel comfortable if your opinion as a country, and really as a people, is declining,” Kinsman said. “You can do a lot to convince your people that you are right and that they are victims of other people’s prejudices.”
Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat, called the release of the two Michaels a victory in diplomacy, but said Canada needed to do more to end the nation’s practice of arresting foreign nationals for political gain.
“We put together a huge diplomatic effort by those in the free world to basically say, no, that’s wrong, you’ve gone too far,” Robertson said in an interview with Granthshala News Channel on Saturday. ” “It can’t happen again. For me, the lesson of this is that we have to add teeth to another Canadian [declaration] On arbitrary detention which we disclosed last February.”
Canada has launched Declaration against arbitrary detention in state-by-state relations in February. Since then it has been supported by more than 60 countries around the world.
“I think we need something to persuade countries that want to practice hostage diplomacy,” he said. “China is probably the worst example, but there are others who do the same.”
Scott McKnight, a postdoctoral fellow in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, said the test should be a wake-up call to what Canada can expect from China in the future.
“I think we should be very cautious in our assessment that this could be the type of China we have to move forward as China is only becoming increasingly relevant and more economically powerful in the world,” McKnight told Granthshala. The news channel reported on Friday after Meng reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the US, but before news of the two Michaels had been released.
“We must also recognize the larger, perhaps even broader lesson here, that is a more assertive China; a China that is not afraid to use various tools, some good some not so good, in trying to achieve its policy goals. ,” They said. “This should be a serious moment for Canadian expectations of the People’s Republic of China.”
on business relations
China, Canada’s second largest trading partner, has issued a series of restrictions on Canadian exports since the 2018 arrest of Meng. Despite any escalation of tensions over the matter, Robertson said China was too big to ignore, and business should resume.
“You never forget it, but you put it behind you and you move on,” he said. “We have to build ties with China. We have a lot of citizens of Chinese origin in this country. We will continue to bring in migrants from China. So we have to reconnect with China now.”
Legal analyst Dina Doll reported on Saturday that Huawei still faces a 16-count indictment in the Eastern District of New York, however, adding that it will be a strictly corporate case with no individual citizens being detained.
“In the last few years diplomacy and trade have really broken down against the United States and China, and unfortunately Canada too,” said Doll. “If Huawei’s indictment goes ahead and there is a conviction – they are probably China’s Crown Jewel company – how will China react to that? It’s very unclear, and so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”