By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump over the phone discussed the issue of two Canadian citizens detained in China since late 2018 and to whom China granted rare consular access on Friday and Saturday. the Canadian government said.
Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, had virtual consular access to Michael Spavor, a businessman, on Friday and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, on Saturday, the Canadian government said.
“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the Chinese authorities’ arbitrary detention of these two Canadians since December 201
Trudeau thanked Trump in a phone call Saturday for US support in “demanding the immediate release of the two Canadian citizens arbitrarily detained by China,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement reading the call.
The statements provided no further information. The White House did not have immediate comment on further details on the call.
China arrested Canadian citizens Kovrig and Spavor in late 2018 and subsequently accused them of spying. Their arrests came shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the finance director of Huawei Technologies, on a mandate from the United States.
Relations between Canada and China have been strained ever since.
US tensions with China have also recently increased over handling the coronavirus outbreak, the ongoing trade war between the two countries, China’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong, and the resulting end of the special status of Hong Kong under the United States. Trump’s law.
The Trump administration has limited technology exports to Chinese companies, most notably Huawei, citing national security risks. The company denied these allegations.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Chris Reese)