Christmas Cards for ‘Two Michaels’, A New Campaign to Pressure China to Release Canadians in Prison

December 8, 2020 Updated: December 9, 2020

A campaign to send Christmas cards in support of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor was launched by a group of experts, as the second anniversary of the detention of the two Canadians by Chinese authorities approaches.

The campaign, launched by Charles Burton, a senior fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute, and Guy Saint-Jacques, the former ambassador to China, seeks to raise awareness of the  conditions of Kovrig and Spavor, and to pressure Beijing for their release.

Supporters are encouraged to write holiday cards addressed to either one of the two Canadians, often referred to as the “two Michaels,” and send them to the Chinese embassy or consulate located in their countries, and to post a picture of their cards on social media with the hashtag #FreeChinaHostages.

“Of course, they’ll never get the cards, but the idea of flooding embassies with these envelopes of support from ordinary people around the world I think could send the message that might help,” Burton told Global News.

Canadians Michael Spavor (L), and Michael Kovric, are currently detained in China. (AP Photo)
Canadians Michael Spavor (L), and Michael Kovric, who are currently jailed in China, in file photos. (AP Photo)

Diplomats, experts, and journalists in Canada and abroad have answered to the campaign.

“This is a great initiative. I have done the same. And it gave me a small bit of pleasure to believe that it might be annoying to the Ambassador,” wrote Barbara Richardson, a former ambassador at Global Affairs Canada.

“The whole world knows that you are a hostage in China. This cannot be tolerated any longer. It is time for Beijing to release you—long overdue,” wrote Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent U.S. think tank.

Kovrig and Spavor have been detained since December 2018, only days after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies. Meng was arrested on an extradition warrant issued by a New York court, based on allegations that she had lied to HSBC about her company’s business operations in the Middle East in order to secure funding, which exposed the bank to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Meng was soon released and placed under house arrest in one of her Vancouver mansions, and has been largely free to roam within designated areas in the city. Spavor and Kovrig, however, have been confined to small cells and have lived in horrifying conditions, according to a letter Kovrig wrote to his wife, Vina Nadjibulla, in June, as reported by The Globe and Mail.

Meng has been attending evidential hearings in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Her case is set to wrap up in April 2021.