A resolution by European lawmakers calling for sanctions against human rights abusers in China is also calling for the release of Canadian citizens currently detained in China.
The resolution (PDF), published on April 18, is in response to mounting criticism in recent years over China’s abuse of ethnic and religious minorities. An introductory clause notes that the “freedom of religion and conscience has reached a new low point” in China since the 1970s, and that China has one of the largest populations of religious prisoners.
The resolution calls for the immediate release of named Uighurs, Tibetan figures, and prisoners of conscience persecuted for their beliefs, including Canadian citizen Sun Qian.
Sun, a resident of Vancouver who obtained Canadian citizenship in 2007, often travelled to China for business, as she was the vice-president of the multi-billion-dollar company Beijing Leadman Biochemistry. She was detained by Chinese authorities in February 2017 because she is an adherent of Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice also known as Falun Gong that has been persecuted by Chinese authorities since 1999.
The European resolution also includes a clause calling for the Chinese regime to immediately release Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
Spavor, an entrepreneur, and Kovrig, a former diplomat, were detained on Dec. 10, 2018. Their detention was widely seen as retaliation by Beijing for Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1, 2018 at the request of U.S. authorities.
Sun’s court trial last September was called a “show” trial by her sister, Sun Zan, who also said that only four of Sun’s immediate family members and three representatives from the Canadian embassy in Beijing were allowed to attend the trial. Everyone else was refused entry, despite it supposedly being a public trial.
Sun has reportedly faced torture and abuse while detained with the aim of having her renounce her faith.
Kovrig and Spavor
Meng’s arrest sparked a political dispute between Ottawa and Beijing, which was further exacerbated by the regime’s arrest of Spavor and Kovrig and the escalation of a drug-related 15-year prison sentence for Canadian Robert Schellenberg to death sentence.
“The Canadian government remains deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of these two Canadians since December 2018 and continues to call for their immediate release,” Global Affairs Canada said in an emailed statement.
“Canada continues to express its appreciation to those who have spoken in support of these detained Canadians and the rule of law. This includes Australia, the E.U., France, Germany, the UK, the United States, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain, Denmark, NATO, and the G7.”
Global Affairs Canada has confirmed that Kovrig and Spavor have received six consular visits each, and that Canadian consular officials continue to provide consular services to both their families.