Canada’s Trudeau urges unified front against China detentions, says all nations vulnerable

(Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged nations around the world to maintain a unified front against Chinese detentions of foreign citizens, saying every country was vulnerable.

Trudeau made his remarks as China offered more consular access to two Canadian men it arrested in December 2018 and charged with spying. Canada has repeatedly called on its partners to press Beijing for their release.

“We have a tremendous level of alignment, not just with the United States but with allies around the world, to continually bring up the question of the coercive diplomacy that China is increasingly using,” Trudeau said in an interview at the Reuters Next summit that aired on Thursday.

“We must all stand together because who knows whose citizens might be next?”

China detained the two men after Canadian police picked up Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. arrest warrant. She is under house arrest in Vancouver as she fights extradition.

Syrine Khoury, a spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Marc Garneau, said Canada had obtained agreements involving increased family and consular access to the two men in recent months but gave no details.

A person familiar with the case said that since October, consular visits had been restored to levels seen before the pandemic. The families of the two men had also spoken to them once by phone, said the person, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

Khoury also said Canadian immigration officials had allowed Meng family members to visit her. Canada has strict travel restrictions to combat the coronavirus.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino declined to comment when asked whether the permission for Meng’s family was linked to the increased consular access.