Status: 03/22/2021 8:59 a.m.
As of today, behind closed doors, a Canadian in Beijing has to answer in court. Diplomats see the process as retaliation for a Huawei manager who is under house arrest in Canada.
From Steffen Wurzel,
The Chinese authorities have once again demonstrated today that the People’s Republic is not a constitutional state, even if the state and party leadership keep claiming it.
Police and State Security officers prevented Canadian diplomats from entering the Beijing courthouse. Representatives from the USA, Germany and more than 20 other countries were also locked out.
The trial of Michael Kovrig, a Canadian who had been held in solitary confinement for more than two years, began in camera. “He has been arbitrarily detained,” said Chargé d’Affaires at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, Jim Nickel, before journalists at the Second Intermediate People’s Court.
Kovrig has been in prison for more than two years.
The court case against Kovrig itself is “not transparent”. The exclusion of diplomats violates international agreements that China has signed. The Chinese side had given Nickel as a reason that this was a “so-called case of national security”. That is why negotiations are being held behind closed court doors in camera.
Defendants face long prison terms
The Chinese police arrested ex-diplomat Kovrig at the end of 2018 on flimsy grounds. He is accused of espionage. The governments of western states, on the other hand, speak of “hostage diplomacy” by the communist leadership.
In addition to Kovrig, another Canadian has been charged in China. The businessman Michael Spavor has had to answer in court for alleged espionage since Friday. Spectators and diplomats were also not allowed to take part in this hearing because it was allegedly about state secrets.
Both defendants face long prison terms. It is unclear when the judgments will be announced. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had criticized the “arbitrary detentions” and secret trials as “completely unacceptable”.
Relationships badly damaged
Kovrig and Spavor were arrested after the CFO of the Chinese Huawei group was placed under house arrest in Vancouver, Canada in December 2018. Proceedings are pending in the United States against Meng Wanzhou. Washington accuses her of violating the Iran sanctions.
China’s state and party leadership has indicated several times in the past few months that there is a connection between the Huawei manager and the two detained Canadians. Officially, however, the communist leadership denies this.
Western diplomats see this as a “reprisal”. The trials have severely damaged relations between China and Canada. Several states are now warning their citizens against arbitrary arrests in China.
China’s hostage diplomacy: Diplomats locked out of Canadians trial
Steffen Wurzel, ARD Shanghai, 22.3.2021 · 08:20