While China is warning Canada not to rely on the United States to help with the case of two detained Canadians, CTV News has learned that President Donald Trump did in fact broach the subject with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the recent G20 summit.
During a meeting in June with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House, Trump promised to raise the plight of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor during a planned meeting with Xi in Japan last week.
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Before leaving the G20 summit, Trump said he did not talk about the Meng case with Xi, which raised concerns about whether he had kept his promise with Trudeau.
A government source has confirmed to CTV News that Trump had indeed stayed true to his word and discussed the detained Canadians in a “clear and substantive” way with Xi. It’s unclear how Xi responded.
Kovrig and Spavor have been detained in China since December on national security charges in what is largely considered retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. She is facing fraud charges in the U.S.
Whether the conversation between Trump and Xi will have any impact is still to be determined, but Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, said Wednesday Canada “shouldn’t be so naïve” to think Trump’s pressure would work and that Trump would “earnestly pursue a Canadian agenda.”
Geng also mentioned China believes Canada is solely responsible for the increased tensions between the two countries over the past six months. On top of the detention of Kovrig and Spavor, China has all but stopped the import of Canada’s canola and meat products.
Despite the increased tensions, the federal government says they are still in contact with China. Over the weekend however, China’s ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye officially left his post, meaning both countries are now without a top envoy.
Meng is scheduled for another hearing on Sept. 23.
With files from The Canadian Press