Canada is getting some moral support from the US Congress in its dispute with China, which began when Ottawa arrested one of the top executives of China's leading technology company Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
Relations between Canada and China have significantly deteriorated since Canadian officials arrested Huawei's financial director, Meng Wanzhou, last December on an extradition request from the United States. The Americans claim that it helped the company violate US economic sanctions against Iran.
This week, a bipartisan couple of members of the US Congress presented a resolution to the House of Representatives that criticizes China's conduct in this affair and calls on Beijing to free two Canadians kidnapped in the days following the arrest of Ms. Meng. Vancouver International Airport. The resolution calls for China's detention of the former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor "apparent retaliation" for Ms. Meng's arrest.
The two men remain incarcerated, excluded from the family and lawyers and have been accused of espionage. Chinese authorities confiscated Mr. Kovrig's reading glasses. Ms. Meng's father, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, suggested in a recent interview with The Globe and Mail that if her daughter was released, Huawei could then support the release of Canadians.
Contrary to the conditions that Canadians face, Ms. Meng is free on bail for $ 10 million and lives in a multimillion-dollar home in Vancouver while waiting for an extradition hearing in January.
Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China, said Thursday that he hopes the US resolution will help, "but it would be more useful if he listed specific measures that the US government will take if they [Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor ] I am not released. "
The sponsors of the resolution are Eliot Engel of New York, Democratic president of the House's foreign affairs committee, and Michael McCaul, a Republican member of the same commission, who represents a Texas district.
"Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have faced difficult conditions during detention that include limited consular access," says the resolution. "No access to a lawyer, unable to turn off the lights at night, and lengthy interrogations, even in the case of Mr. Kovrig, on his official activities during his previous post as diplomat accredited in the People's Republic of China, potentially in violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations ".
The resolution praises Canada "for respecting the rule of law and respecting its international legal obligations" under the US-Canada extradition treaty and granting Ms. Meng's consular access to her government and right process under Canadian law.
Expresses concern at the "apparent arbitrary detention and offensive treatment" of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor and "joins the Government of Canada demanding the immediate release of the two men. It also requires a" fair trial "for the Canadian Robert Schellenberg: He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking, but after Ms. Meng was arrested, a Chinese court ruled that he should suffer the death penalty.
Roland Paris, professor at the University of Ottawa and former foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said that, if the resolution passes, the House of Representatives will join the United States Senate and White House "asking for the release of the two Michaels. "
Prof. Paris said the resolution maintains international pressure on China to free the two Canadians and keeps this problem alive in the minds of US politicians.
"A few months ago, it was not clear that the United States would defend our inmates, but both the White House and Congress now seem committed. Frankly, it's the right thing to do for them, considering Canada is paying the price for comply with the terms of our bilateral extradition treaty ".
A spokesman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland did not say whether Canada asked Engel and McCaul to present this resolution.
However, Trudeau met both deputies in June during his last visit to Washington.
Ms. Freeland's press secretary Adam Austen said that Canada is grateful to the US House of Representatives "for its support and efforts to approve a resolution that echoes our request to release Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig and recognizing the respect of Canada for the rule of law ".
He said that Canada is also grateful to the other countries, blocs and alliances that have expressed their support including: Australia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Group of Seven and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.