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Parliamentary delegation presses China for release of Canadians arrested amid tense diplomatic dispute

Last Updated May 21, 2019 at 10:31 am PST

FILE: Michael Spavor, director of Paektu Cultural Exchange (left) and Michael Kovrig (right) have been arrested in China. (AP/The Canadian Press)

Canadian parliamentary delegation in China tries to put pressure on Beijing to release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor

Both Canadians have been detained since December; they were formally arrested last week

The Canadians' detentions are widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive in Canada

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – A Canadian parliamentary delegation is now in China, attempting to use diplomatic efforts to secure the release of two Canadians detained there since December.

The Canada-China Legislative Association, which is made up of members of all parties, is on the ground meeting with Chinese government officials. They are joined by the parliamentary secretary to foreign affairs, who is addressing the detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Both men were formally arrested last week after months behind bars.

The federal government is denouncing the arrests and making a tougher diplomatic push for the men’s release.

Read more:¬†Huawei exec’s arrest, detention unlawful with no basis for extradition: lawyers

Speaking in Quebec, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this situation is not just a concern for Canada, but also for the country’s allies.

“China is playing, making stronger moves than it has before to try and get its own way on the world stage,” he said.

He added his government won’t back down.

“Canada, obviously, is in a difficult situation with China right now. But we’re going to continue to hold strong, we’re going to continue to stand up for our values and our principles. We’re going to put the safety and security of Canadians first and foremost, as we always do.”

The delegation is in China until May 25.

Related video: China arrests 2 Canadians in case with ties to Huawei

The arrests are widely seen as retaliation after Canada arrested Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S.

She was taken into custody at Vancouver International Airport, and is facing possible extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges.