Is the timing of these sentencings coincidental, possibly to place pressure on the Canadian government to intervene in the case of Meng? No one can say for sure, but consider that two of the Canadians �� Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who was also charged for espionage and awaits his sentence — were nabbed within days of the arrest of Meng at the Vancouver airport two and a half years ago, as the member of one of China’s most influential families was transiting from Hong Kong to Mexico.
By the time the Beijing Winter Olympics get underway in February 2022, the “two Michaels,” as they are known here in Canada, will have spent three agonizing years behind bars. With the judicial acrobatics involving Canadians in China, Ottawa should be readying a potent arsenal of diplomatic sticks — including plans to boycott the Games.
In the coming days, the fate of Kovrig is expected to be handed down.
As long as Canadian citizens are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention, none should consider themselves safe in China. Consider that Kovrig, a respected former diplomat and Northeast Asia adviser for the International Crisis Group who worked a decade in China, was nabbed on allegations he “endangered Chinese security” based on evidence so far unknown to anyone outside China’s opaque judicial system.
In this geopolitical new normal, where a more assertive China ignores international norms, nothing can be taken for granted. Beijing responds to toughness, not half-hearted soft diplomacy. As such, Canada needs to bulk up its foreign policy muscle to avoid being outmaneuvered on the international diplomatic podium.