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China's new envoy to Canada delivers familiar message on justice, rights

Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Canada Cong Peiwu participates in a roundtable interview with journalists at the Embassy of China in Ottawa, on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — Beijing has a new representative in Canada, but the stern message to Ottawa remains the same.

Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu is reiterating his country’s call for Canada to release Meng Wanzhou, an executive with Huawei Technologies arrested nearly a year ago.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing have been fractious since early last December, when Canadian authorities in Vancouver took Meng into custody following a request from the United States over allegations of violating sanctions on Iran.

Cong said in a roundtable interview in Ottawa today that Meng’s arrest and pending extradition to the U.S. amount to arbitrary detention.

Soon after Meng was arrested, Beijing detained two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, on allegations of undermining national security.

The developments are widely seen in Canada as retaliation for the detention of Meng, whose extradition hearing begins in January.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2019.

The Canadian Press