Global Affairs Canada confirmed on Tuesday that a third Canadian citizen has been detained by Chinese authorities, but did not connect the incident to Canada’s high-profile arrest last month of a Chinese tech executive.
A spokesperson with Global Affairs said it was “aware of a Canadian citizen” who has been detained, but did not provide further details, citing the Privacy Act.
The office did not suggest the arrest was linked to the arrest of Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1, who was held by Canadian authorities at the request of U.S. officials.
Since the arrest two Canadians ― Calgary-born entrepreneur Michael Spavor and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig ― have been held by Chinese authorities.
The arrest of a third Canadian citizen could cloud relations between the two countries, which has been marred amid an ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China.
The National Post could not confirm the identity of the detained citizen. But third-party sources who said they spoke to the family of the person suggest the person is not a diplomatic official, nor an entrepreneur operating in China.
Meng has since been released on bail and is to return to court early next year for what could be an extended legal proceeding.
The Chinese government and state-run media have lashed out against Canada for the arrest, which could dampen Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s ambitions to launch free trade talks with the country.
In an op-ed in the Globe and Mail, Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye said Meng’s arrest was a “miscarriage of justice,” given that she wasn’t charged under Canadian law.
“The detention of Ms. Meng is not a mere judicial case, but a premeditated political action in which the United States wields its regime power to witch-hunt a Chinese high-tech company out of political consideration,” Lu said. “The reason behind all the bullying behaviours of the United States is that it pursues power politics against other countries relying on its huge advantage in national strength.”
Meng’s father is the founder of Huawei, one of the world’s largest developers of hardware and software technologies, including cutting-edge mobile data networks. The Trudeau government has been under some pressure to bar the company from developing its 5G network in Canada, due to security risks cited by some experts.
Global Affairs said consular officials are helping the family of the detained person.
By Jesse Snyder