Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he was confident the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden would continue to pressure China to release two Canadians who had been detained for nearly two years.
Beijing – in an act widely condemned as retaliation by Western capitals – arrested former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor on suspicion of espionage in December 2018, days after Canada arrested Huawei manager Meng Wangzhou on a US arrest warrant.
At a press conference, Trudeau said his administration had worked “very closely” with Donald Trump’s administration and other allies to pressure Beijing to release the couple.
“I am extremely confident that the future American administration will continue to be a good partner for Canada and other nations around the world as we want to convince China that the approach they are taking just doesn’t work (and it is) important to return the two Canadians who have been arbitrarily detained for over 700 days, “he said.
Trudeau also renewed his criticism of what Ottawa has called China’s “forced diplomacy”, calling it “ineffective and extremely worrying for democratic nations around the world“.
The preliminary arrests plunged Canada-China relations into an unprecedented crisis.
While Meng battles extradition to the United States, where she is wanted for fraud related to violating US sanctions against Iran, Kovrig and Spavor disappeared into Beijing’s opaque judicial system.
Ottawa and Beijing have repeatedly accused the other of sparking the diplomatic battle that has sunk the preliminary free trade talks.
Trudeau was one of the first leaders in the world to congratulate Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election victory less than an hour after the US media named him.
On Monday, the prime minister expressed confidence in the U.S. electoral system and declined to comment on Trump’s refusal to admit defeat. He said he would continue to work with Trump on bilateral issues until Biden’s inauguration in late January.
Trudeau also took a moment to ponder “the historic milestone” in the US election. “Seeing a woman, a black and South Asian American woman, who was elected the next Vice President of the United States is an inspiration,” he said.
And he said, “It is a welcome sign that the new president-elect has indicated that climate change is his top priority.”
Biden has vowed to quickly rejoin the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change after Trump abandoned it.