BEIJING – China on Wednesday renewed a demand that Canada release a top executive of tech giant Huawei a day after announcing a suspension of all imports of Canadian meat products in an apparent bid to increase the pressure on Ottawa.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a daily briefing Wednesday that Canada should “take seriously China’s concerns” and immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement Tuesday that Chinese customs inspectors detected residue from a restricted feed additive called ractopamine in a batch of Canadian pork products, prompting the ban. The additive is permitted in Canada but banned in China.
Meng was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada at the request of U.S. authorities, who want to try her on fraud charges. She resides under house arrest in one of her mansions in the city of Vancouver.
Days after Meng’s arrest, China responded by detaining two Canadians and sentenced another to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for Meng’s release.
The two detained men, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, have been accused of conspiring together to steal state secrets. No evidence has been provided and they have not been allowed access to family members or lawyers while remaining in custody.
The latest action against Canada comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Japan for the G-20 summit later this week. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the summit amid the ongoing tariff war between the world’s two largest economies.
Meng’s arrest set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries, severely damaging Beijing’s relations with Ottawa. The Chinese have refused to talk to senior Canadian government officials, including Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Before acting against Canadian meat, China previously stopped importing certain Canadian products like canola.
Last year, Canada’s shipments of pork to China were worth about 500 million Canadian dollars, or about $380 million.