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Canadian government warns against travel to China

Last Updated Jan 14, 2019 at 5:37 pm PST

A Chinese flag flies outside of the Secondary Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin northeastern China's Tianjin municipality, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The Canadian government is warning citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in China

The upgrading of the warning comes amid news a Canadian has been sentenced to death

Two other Canadians remain in custody and are being detained

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The Canadian government is asking Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution while travelling to China.

“The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad, we take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel aboard,” the Canadian government website reads.

The warning comes amid news that a Canadian has been handed the death sentence after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg learned of his fate on Monday. He had been sentenced to 15 years back in 2016 for drug smuggling.

In December, an appeals court agreed with prosecutors who said Schellenberg was punished too leniently, adding it was possible Schellenberg played a more important role.

He has continued to maintain his innocence and denies trying to smuggle more than 22 kilograms of methamphetamine from China to Australia.

Schellenberg says he was visiting the country as a tourist. He has 10 days to appeal the sentence.

His family have released a statement to CNN in which they write:

“The Schellenberg family cares deeply about our Robert who is being held under very difficult circumstances in China. As a family we are communicating with our Member of Parliament, Mr. Ed Fast, who is working hard on our behalf to ensure that the Trudeau Government makes every effort to secure fair treatment for Robert.”

READ MORE: The Latest: Trudeau: Chinese death sentence arbitrary

“It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all of our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty in cases as in this case facing a Canadian,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.

READ MORE: Expert describes two Canadians detained in China as pawns in diplomatic chess game

Two other Canadians remained detained, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The case is just the latest development in rising tensions between the two countries which started with the arrest of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou last year in Vancouver.

Wanzhou remains on bail pending an extradition hearing to the United States and is being accused of violating sanctions against Iran.