Monday, September 26, 2022

O’Toole warns Canadians not to be safe in China after court upholds death penalty

OTTAWA – Federal conservative leader Erin O’Toole accused Beijing of using the death penalty for political purposes on Tuesday after a Chinese court upheld the death penalty of a Canadian man in a drug case.

O’Toole also reopened the door to a Canadian boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics in China, warning of recent actions by the Chinese government, saying Canadians are not safe in the country.

“I know how hard our athletes are training for Beijing,” the Conservative leader said during a news conference in Oakville, Ont. “But we are reaching a point where it will no longer be safe for Canadians, including Olympic athletes, to travel to China.”

O’Toole’s remarks came hours after the Higher People’s Court of Liaoning Province in the north-east rejected an appeal by Robert Schellenberg, whose drug trafficking charge extended his 15-year prison term to death in January 2019. was given.

This was followed by the arrest of Huawei Technologies Ltd executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December 2018 on US charges of lying to the Hong Kong branch of British bank HSBC about possible dealings with Iran in violation of trade sanctions.

China also arrested and later prosecuted two other Canadians, entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, on charges of espionage in retaliation for Meng’s detention. Critics have described his arrest as “hostage politics”.

Meng’s lawyers argue that the case against Huawei’s chief financial officer is politically motivated and that what he is accused of is not a crime in Canada.

The Chinese government has criticized the arrests as part of US efforts to hinder its technology development. Network equipment and smartphone maker Huawei is China’s first global tech brand and is at the center of US-Chinese tensions over technology and security.

The federal government criticized Tuesday’s decision calling the death penalty for Schellenberg arbitrary and calling the punishment “brutal and inhumane.”

“We condemn the decision in the strongest terms and call on China to grant Robert a clemency,” Ambassador Dominic Barton told reporters by phone after attending the appeals hearing in Shenyang, about 20 kilometers west of Dandong.

According to the court, Schellenberg was convicted of smuggling 222 kilograms of methamphetamine.

O’Toole, who has been pressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to take a tougher stance with Beijing, wasted no time on Tuesday criticizing the Chinese court’s rejection of Schellenberg’s appeal.

“The dismissal of Robert Schellenberg’s appeal must be seen for what it is: a foreign government planning to take the life of a Canadian for political reasons,” he said. “The use of the death penalty is abhorrent. But imposing it for political reasons is inexcusable.”

He said Canadians will be watching as a separate Chinese court is expected to issue its ruling in Spavor’s case on Wednesday, even as a Vancouver court is set to hear a final argument on whether Meng should be handed over to US officials.

“We are proud of our athletes that we are celebrating,” O’Toole said. “But we also have to recognize the actions of a country that wants to host the Games to bring people together. And we have to think long and hard about whether we reward a country like this with the Games.

Canada and other governments, including Australia and the Philippines, are facing mounting Chinese pressure, including a trade boycott in disputes over human rights, the coronavirus and territorial claims.

Washington has warned Americans that they face “a great risk of arbitrary detention” in China for reasons other than enforcing the law.

Asked whether the Schellenberg, Spavor and Kovrig cases were linked to Meng, Barton said, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s happening right now while events are going on in Vancouver.” He said the matter was “part of the geopolitical process.”

He said Canadian diplomats spoke with Schellenberg after the decision but declined to provide details.

“He’s remarkably composed,” Barton said. “We had a good conversation.”

According to Barton, diplomats from the United States, Germany, Australia and France attended Tuesday’s hearing. He thanked him and other governments for expressing support for Canada.

Two other Canadians, Fan Wei and Xu Weihong, were also sentenced to death on drug charges in separate cases in 2019 as relations between Beijing and Ottawa soured.

by Lee Barthium

With files from The Associated Press.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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