OTTAWA — Experts say Ottawa shouldn’t expect Beijing to do it any favours and free the “two Michaels” in return for medical co-operation fighting the new coronavirus.
China’s ambassador to Canada hinted at that last week and Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says he raises the two men in every medical discussion with China.
Champagne says he’s had more access to his Chinese counterparts in recent weeks and he uses the occasions to push for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been in Chinese prisons without charge since December 2018.
They were in arrested in what is widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s decision to arrest Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition request from the United States.
David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, says that while it is good for Champagne to keep pushing, Canada’s assistance on the coronavirus simply isn’t contingent on what China can do for Canada.
Bessma Momani, an international-affairs expert at the University of Waterloo, says China wants only one thing — Meng released — and so-called medical health diplomacy will not change that.