China has detained a former Canadian diplomat in what appears to be a kind of tit-for-tat retaliation for the arrest of the chief financial officer of Chinas Huawei Technologies ten days ago, according to reports.
Michael Kovrig was working full-time as a North East Asia senior adviser for the International Crisis Group. In a statement, the think tank said it was aware of reports of his detention and was doing “everything possible” to secure additional information about his whereabouts and that it was calling for his “prompt and safe release.”
Kovrigs detention follows the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinas Huawei Technologies in Vancouver on December 1 at the request of US authorities, but the exact reason for the former diplomats detention is not yet known.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not commented on Kovrigs arrest and it was not immediately clear if the two cases were related, but Wanzhous arrest has sparked fears of retaliation against the Canadian business community in China.
The earlier arrest of Wanzhou also threatened to further inflame the ongoing US-China trade row, but top US economic and trade representatives insisted that talks over a new trade deal would not be derailed by the diplomatic row.
Earlier in December, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that a planned January hike in US tariffs would be delayed while a trade deal was negotiated. The tariffs would have risen from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Kovrig worked as a diplomat between 2003 and 2016, with stints in Hong Kong, Beijing and others. The Canadian Embassy in China has not yet commented on Kovrigs arrest.
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