Canadian officials make contact with one of two Canadians detained in China

Tourism Minister Melanie Joly had been scheduled to travel to China from December 17 to 20.

Canadian officials were granted consular access on Friday to one of the two detainees and are still trying to contact, the foreign ministry said.

The decision puts the breaks on a major Sino-Canadian initiative meant to deepen ties between the countries.

The two men were taken into custody days after Canadian officials arrested leading Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of American police, so she can be extradited to the face fraud charges.

What those shared objectives are, he didn't specify.

The prime minister's comments on the Chinese arrests come as officials in Beijing vent frustration over Canada's role in the Huawei executive's case.

On a trip to Beijing one year ago, Trudeau announced that 2018 would be the year of Canada-China tourism - an initiative meant to tap the economic potential of upwardly mobile Chinese travellers. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna recently completed a trip to China to forge links on battling climate change and fostering clean energy alternatives.

Pompeo spoke at a press conference in Washington with his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis.

The arest comes after Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief finance officer was accused of violation of the United States sanctions imposed on Iran. Canada is now the subject of scorn in China, across social media and in the country's state-run media.

Meng was freed Tuesday on $10 million bail by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

"Washington naturally assumes the compulsory measures Beijing has taken are politically motivated - an expedient move on Beijing's part to retaliate against Ottawa - since that is how [Washington] operates", the editorial said. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa loudly protested Meng's arrest as a violation of her human rights. This will only stiffen Canada's resolve to follow through with its legal process, untainted by political interference.

Canadian officials say a wide range of topics was planned for their talks, including Russia-Ukraine tensions and issues related to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but the ongoing tensions with China will definitely be on the table.

Pompeo said the detention of nationals overseas was something that "weighs on those of us who serve to try to make sure that our citizens do have the opportunity to return home to their families".

Trump said this week he might intervene in the extradition request if that would serve national security interests or help close a trade deal with China, prompting Freeland to warn Washington it should not politicize such matters.

Meng made a brief appearance at the front door earlier when she said goodbye to three people who left in a vehicle with diplomatic licence plates.

  • David Armstrong