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China court sentences Canadian to death as diplomatic row deepens

China court sentences Canadian to death as diplomatic row deepens

Hua's comments add to increasingly strained relations between the two countries since Canada detained Meng on December 1, followed soon after by China's arrest of Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations they were undermining national security.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has reached out to China's ambassador to ask for clemency in the case of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, the Canadian who is facing the death penalty for allegedly smuggling 222 kilograms of methamphetamines.

Freeland recalled Canada's long-standing opposition to capital punishment.

Ardern was not available for comment today but a spokeswoman for duty minister Grant Robertson confirmed Ardern had a brief conversation with Trudeau yesterday.

"I will say that it is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our global friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty, as in this case, facing a Canadian", Trudeau told reporters on Monday.

Canada and China made a concerted effort to boost tourism past year to take economic advantage of the growing middle class in the People's Republic.

Beijing had earlier said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made "irresponsible remarks" for saying China chose to "arbitrarily apply" death penalties.

"Although the cases are a consular matter between Canada and China - as the extradition case relates to a Huawei executive in Canada - there are principles at stake that concern us all", the spokeswoman said.

Only hours after Canada cautioned its citizens about traveling to China due to "arbitrary enforcement of local laws", China struck back on Tuesday with an advisory of its own, warning Chinese citizens to exercise caution when traveling to Canada.

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In early December Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

"The prime ministers discussed the detention and legal treatment of Canadian citizens in China and the need for all countries to respect judicial procedure and rule of law", a spokesperson said.

Freeland said she was proud that a "large and growing group" of Canada's allies are standing by Canada in the dispute, including Germany, France, the Netherlands, the European Union, the U.S. the U.K. Australia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.

Shortly after Wanzhou's arrest, China threatened Canada with "grave consequences" for keeping her in the country, but officials have denied any subsequent actions are retaliation, including the decision to sentence a B.C. man to death this week.

During the single-day trial, Schellenberg maintained that he was a tourist and that his translator had involved him in a conspiracy to traffic drugs to Australia. "And that is very important".

Meng's arrest is viewed in China as part of a U.S. attempt to contain Huawei, one of the world's biggest telecommunications companies.

Beijing views the Huawei executive's arrest as "a politically calculated act to contain China's growth", Professor Ong said.

A lawyer for Schellenberg, Zhang Dongshuo, told Reuters his client would probably appeal against the death sentence.