China sentences Canadian to death, raises tension

15 January, 2019, 07:29 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • A general view of the Intermediate People's Court of Dalian in Liaoning province China Jan. 14 2019

But following an appeal, a high court in Liaoning ruled in December that the sentence was too lenient given the severity of his crimes. Western diplomats in Beijing, however, say the cases are a tit-for-tat reprisal.

Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, on December 1 at the request of the United States, angering Beijing.

Schellenberg appears to be the first North American sentenced to death in China in recent times.

Schellenberg and his lawyer then appealed that sentence but unfortunately for him, that meant risking a harsher sentence like the one he has received now. In November 2018, a court found him guilty of trying to smuggle methamphetamine from China to Australia.

Zhang said he argued in the one-day trial Monday that there was insufficient evidence to prove Schellenberg's involvement in the drug-smuggling operation, nor had prosecutors introduced new evidence to justify a heavier sentence.

Since Meng's arrest, China has detained two more Canadians - Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur - on vague allegations that they threaten Chinese national security.

China has since arrested two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Meng's arrest.

After Monday's sentence was announced, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed "extreme concern" that China had "chosen to arbitrarily" apply the death penalty in Schellenberg's case.

The Chinese government invited foreign media to attend Schellenberg's appeal hearing, which prompted deep speculation that China was using the Canadian man as a bargaining chip.

Trudeau accused China again on Monday of not respecting longstanding practices regarding diplomatic immunity.


The sentence comes against the backdrop of Beijing's anger over the arrest in Canada of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei last month on a USA extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

Some foreign experts have said China's swift action in all three cases appeared meant to pressure Canada to free Meng and return her to China, rather than sending her to the United States.

"According to the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations and worldwide law, he is not entitled to diplomatic immunity", Hua said at a daily briefing. And rights organizations said it raises serious questions about possible political interference in China.

He told The Associated Press that "it's hard not to see a link" between the case and Canada's arrest of Meng.

Michael Cooper, a Canadian member of Parliament who was in China last week as part of a parliamentary delegation, told The Epoch Times that the sentence illustrates the extent of the tension in the Canada-China relationship.

Lu Shaye, China's ambassador to Canada, suggested in a newspaper article last week that the arrest of Kovrig and Spavor was "China's self-defence", but did not give details.

It comes as the U.S. urges its allies not to use Huawei over data security concerns.

The arrests raised concerns over the safety of Poland's nationals in China, although Hua brushed off such worries, emphasizing China's desire for the "sound and steady" development of relations with Poland.

St-Jacques said Canada should immediately call for a top-level meeting of foreign policy and security advisers from the two nations "to impress upon the Chinese side that they have to abide by global law".

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