January 8, 2019 / 3:54 PM / 6 months ago

Canadian diplomats in China met second of two detained citizens

FILE PHOTO: Canadian businessman Michael Spavor arrives next to the former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman (not pictured) after a trip to North Korea, at Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing, China Jan. 13, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian diplomats in China on Tuesday met the second of two citizens who were detained last month after the arrest of a senior Chinese executive in Vancouver, the Canadian foreign ministry said.

“Today, Canadian consular officials in China visited with Michael Spavor,” the ministry said in a statement that provided no further details. Officials met Michael Kovrig on Dec. 17.

Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Technologies Co Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1 on a U.S. extradition warrant. Beijing denounced the move and threatened reprisals unless the case against Meng was dropped.

“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of these two Canadians since last month and continues to call for their immediate release,” the foreign ministry said in the statement.

The spat is threatening to increase global tensions at a time when Washington and Beijing are already locked in a trade war.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday and the two leaders agreed to continue pressing Beijing to free Spavor and Kovrig, Trudeau’s office said in a statement.

Although Canada says China has made no specific link between the detentions and Meng’s arrest, experts and former diplomats say they have no doubt Beijing is using the cases of the two men to pressure Ottawa.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas

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