Trudeau to Talk China, Detained Canadians, and Trade With Trump

By Margaret Wollensak, The Epoch Times
June 19, 2019 Updated: June 19, 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will discuss the Chinese regime and global issues with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. Thursday ahead of next week’s G20 leader’s summit.

He and Trump will spend time discussing the challenge the regime poses to global trade, as well as their countries’ economies, Trudeau said outside a Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa Wednesday.

“We are going to make sure that we can work together to support each other and move together in the right way,” he said.

The meeting between the two leaders comes as Canada continues to call on the Chinese regime to release two Canadians whose detentions are seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last December on behalf of U.S. authorities. Washington wants Meng to stand trial in the United States on charges of fraud related to allegations she lied to U.S. banks about Huawei’s relationship with a company that does business in Iran in order to get around sanctions.

Beijing has been livid since Meng’s arrest, repeatedly demanding her release as diplomatic tensions escalated between Canada and China. Ottawa has maintained that it is following the rule of law with regard to Meng’s arrest and current extradition proceedings. Meng is out on bail in Vancouver, staying at one of her multimillion dollar mansions as her case progresses.

Canadians Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig
Canadians Michael Spavor (L) and Michael Kovrig have been detained in China since shortly after Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December 2018. (AP Photo)

In contrast, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained by the Chinese regime for over six months without access to lawyers or family. They were only recently formally charged.

Canadian consulular officials have been able to visit Kovrig and Spavor about once a month each, the last visits being June 12 and 13 respectively. The Canadian government has said it is “deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention,” and has continued to call for the men’s immediate release.

Trudeau has yet to speak with Chinese leader Xi Jinping regarding the detentions, but has previously said he is looking forward to “engaging directly” with the Chinese leader about Kovrig and Spavor and the ongoing issues between the two countries.

“The continued detention of two Canadians in an arbitrary manner by the Chinese government is of utmost concern to us,”  Trudeau said in France on June 6, CBC reports.

“Their actions on canola, their issues around other products as well, is of concern. We are going to highlight the processes and the engagement that Canada has with the world and the way China should engage with the world needs to remain, following the rules, principles, and values that we’ve all agreed to.”

Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she has repeatedly tried but failed to arrange a meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, regarding the issue.

While in Ottawa at the end of May, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called on China to release the two Canadians from their “unlawful detention.” Pence also said that Trump would raise the issue with Xi at the upcoming G20 summit.

Ongoing New NAFTA Talks

Trudeau also said Wednesday that his meeting with Trump will include talks on trade as both countries seek to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), aka the new NAFTA agreement. Trudeau said he is waiting for the deal to move through U.S. Congress before it is put to vote in the House of Commons.

“We are going to make sure we are keeping in step with them, we have an ability to recall Parliament if we need to,” he said. “We will also make sure we are monitoring the pace at which the Americans are ratifying.”

The prime minister also plans to meet House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi while in Washington as well Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday that he would do “whatever is necessary” to make the deal more enforceable, and on Wednesday he told the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee that he is willing to work with Democrats on changes to the USMCA to get the new trade bill moving forward.

“Getting this done sooner rather than later is in everybody’s interest. It saves jobs, it helps the economy, it gets certainty in place,” he said.

With files from the Canadian Press.