Tourism minister Melanie Joly postpones trip to China amid detainment of Canadians

Canada’s tourism minister has called off her scheduled trip to China after the news that two Canadians were detained by Chinese officials.

A spokesperson for Melanie Joly confirmed that both Canadian and Chinese officials agreed to postpone the trip, which was supposed to take place next week. No new date was given for the trip.

Joly was scheduled to attend the closing ceremonies for the Canada-China Year of Tourism.

“Canada and China mutually agreed to postpone the Canada-China Year of Tourism Closing Ceremony and Minister Joly’s planned travel to China. Both governments agreed this would allow us to better achieve our shared objectives,” ministry spokesperson Jeremy Ghio told Global News.

No official reason for the cancellation was given, but tensions between the two countries rose dramatically earlier this week, when two Canadians were detained by Chinese officials for threats to Chinese national security.

Friends say they can’t understand how the pair pose threats to Chinese national security. Michael Korvig is a former diplomat and current political analyst and Michael Spavor is a businessman who runs tours to North Korea.

On Thursday, Chinese government officials confirmed the two Canadians are being detained over national security concerns.

Canadian consular officials have been granted access to Korvig, but officials said they haven’t been in contact with Spavor since he was detained.

Chinese officials added that the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver was a mistake and called for her immediate release.

Meng, a prominent and celebrated businesswoman in China, was arrested in Canada and could face extradition to the U.S.

The U.S. and China have been going through a trade spat recently, and U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested he could intervene in Meng’s case if it helped reach a trade deal.

But Canadian officials have stressed that Meng’s arrest was not political in any way.

Foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan are expected to discuss the situation Friday afternoon with their American counterparts, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis.

On Thursday, opposition leader Andrew Scheer accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of previously having a “naive” approach to Chinese relations — saying the Liberal government “has pursued a policy of appeasement, putting us in a situation where we don’t have leverage.”

In the statement, spokesperson Jeremy Ghio stressed that having close ties to China was good for both countries.

“We look forward to meeting again to continue building people-to-people ties and strengthening the tourism relationship between Canada and China — a relationship that creates good jobs for middle-class families and opportunities for people in both countries,” he said.

 

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