Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland speaks to media following a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Freeland thanks U.S. lawmakers for support on Meng arrest

Meng is wanted in the U.S. on fraud related charges in connection with violating sanctions on Iran

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland applauded Friday a bipartisan American political effort backing Canada in its fight with China over its detention of Huawei’s chief financial officer.

Freeland’s remarks — in an email to The Canadian Press — came hours after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a Beijing news conference his country would take ”all necessary measures” to defend Chinese companies and citizens abroad against ”deliberate political suppression.”

The latest round in Canada’s diplomatic dispute with China came as a new poll was released Friday by the University of British Columbia that cast new light on the deterioration of Sino-Canadian relations since the Meng affair.

Meng is wanted in the U.S. on fraud related charges in connection with violating sanctions on Iran — allegations China angrily dismisses as a politically motivated attack.

The U.S. Senate foreign-relations committee introduced a measure this week that commends Canada for arresting Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver to fulfil an American extradition request.

READ MORE: Meng Wanzhou extradition case raises ‘serious concerns,’ defence lawyer says

The joint Republican and Democratic effort recognizes Canada for upholding the rule of law and expresses concern over actions by China in response to the U.S. request. It calls on China to release Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who were jailed by Beijing authorities following Meng’s arrest.

“Canada appreciates these bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate to pass a resolution echoing our call for the release of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig and recognizing Canada’s respect for the rule of law,” Freeland said.

Freeland also noted that Canada appreciates the support of Australia, the European Union, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and NATO, “who have spoken in support of these detained Canadians and the rule of law.”

Freeland has been working behind the scenes with American lawmakers to court their support for the resolution, say sources familiar with her efforts, but who were not authorized to speak for attribution about them due to the sensitivity of the situation.

Last month, Freeland lobbied Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham at the Munich security conference in Germany, and she pressed the issue with Democratic lawmakers in Washington as well, sources say.

“Canada has provided consular access and due process for Ms. Meng. It is only right for the Senate to join Canada in expressing concern over arbitrary detention and mistreatment of Canadian nationals by the Chinese government,” said Republican Sen. Jim Risch, the chair of the committee.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, heartily concurred.

“I commend Canada for its commitment to transparency and upholding the rule of law and its willingness to do the right thing in the face of significant and unjustified pressure from the Chinese,” said Menendez. “In contrast, China’s actions in seizing Canadian nationals in an apparent act of political retaliation, subjecting them to what appears to be arbitrary detention and mistreatment should be deeply troubling to all members of the international community.”

The Chinese ambassador to Canada has warned the Trudeau government not to court international support against it, saying that would only worsen tensions.

Freeland responded to the American support after a visibly angry Wang gave a defiant answer at a Beijing press conference about Huawei.

“Recent actions against specific Chinese enterprises and individuals are not simply judicial cases, but deliberate political suppression,” said China’s foreign minister.

“We also support companies and individuals using legal weapons to protect their rights and interests and not to be silent lambs,” he added, raising his right hand into a fist.

During a spring 2016 press conference at the headquarters of Canada’s foreign ministry in Ottawa, Wang berated a Canadian reporter — angrily pointing a finger at her — for asking him an ”irresponsible” question that was “full of prejudice” about his country’s human-rights record.

Friday’s friction was reflected in the results of a poll released by the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC which surveyed 1,161 respondents between Feb. 4 and 19, with a margin of error of 2.9 per cent. The Qualtrics survey asked the same questions as in 2017 and 2018 and found that only 22 per cent of Canadians had a favourable image of China, down 14 points.

READ MORE: Canada approves extradition for Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

Respondents also expressed low satisfaction with how the government tries to protect Canadian imprisoned in China. Eighteen per cent answered positively, up six points, but the number giving the government a thumbs-down rose 11 points to 42 per cent.

“Overall, Canadian opinions of China and the Chinese government are increasingly negative but expectations of the relationship have shifted only slightly,” write Paul Evans and Li Xiaojun of UBC.

“What appears to be changing is the sense that Canada is more alone in the world than it was in 2017, more anxious about interactions with China in high-tech sectors, and more worried about threats to domestic values and institutions at home and to Canadians abroad.”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Two week lock down lifted for Kent Institution

A search at the prison found nearly 26 grams of hashish and a cellphone

Harrison Hot Springs to partner with Sts’ailes for reconciliation event

The event will be funded by a grant meant to build dialogue between cities and local First Nations

Chilliwack vintage shop swings open doors at new location

Marion’s Dressing Room the newest place to shop on Mill Street

Agassiz-Harrison Museum showcases refreshed galleries, exhibits

The museum opened for the season on the May long weekend

Ryan McMahon brings new tunes to Acoustic Emporium in Chilliwack

Album is ‘snapshot of a soon-to-be middle-aged man trying to beat the blues,’ says singer-songwriter

VIDEO: Quadriplegic man takes flight over Harrison Mills

Jim Ryan hasn’t moved his arms or legs for three years, but that didn’t stop him from paragliding

TransLink fares to go up on July 1

Fares will increase by a few cents to a few dollars

Roadside device to weed out THC can’t detect impairment, B.C. lawyer says

‘This fact alone is likely to have serious implications for Canadians’ Charter Rights,’ lawyer Sarah Leamon warns

B.C. firefighters rescue frozen dog from ice

The fire crew found a dog stuck in the at Lake Paul on May 20

Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are prepared

Only 46 per cent of British Columbians have prepared an emergency kit with supplies they might need

B.C. man to pay Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party $20k over lawsuit

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

Survey finds 15% of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

Most Read