The longstanding practice of arbitrarily detaining foreign nationals has been criticized by global commentators who have joined the platoon to reprimand human rights negotiations in intergovernmental affairs. The recent Canadian espionage trials confirmed the strained bilateral relations between China, Canada and the US.
The Canadian businessmen Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained since December 2018 and were charged in June 2019 with violating China’s national security and illicit trade in state secrets with other countries. The detention came days after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, an executive at Huawei Technologies Co., following a US extradition request.
ON Canadian news source The Canadian government is appealing to the US for assistance by “relying on President Joe Biden’s proposed postponement of US-China relations” in the publication of Spavor and Kovrig. In addition, Prime Minister Justin Trudaeu did not express any intention of stopping the extradition process.
Chinese media company Sina English State Department spokesman Hua Chunying alleged that the incidents of Meng Wanzhou and the two Canadian citizens “are completely different and that it is a malicious misrepresentation of the facts to be summarized”. Sina also reported that China has vigorously reprimanded “the so-called Declaration against Arbitrary Detention” issued by Canada.
China, along with North Korea, Iran and Russia, is one of the few countries that has practiced an asymmetrical diplomatic instrument called “hostage diplomacy”.
Over the past few decades, the use of such practices has raised a number of issues related to human rights negotiations. Like in the 1998 Yale Human Rights and Development Journal“Hostage diplomacy” arises when “countries try to achieve through the political process what the weak international legal system cannot support”.
Inevitably, this can result in human rights being jeopardized in the midst of the “political process” or negotiations. A month ago, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said sentenced The use of arbitrary detentions as citizens is becoming a “bargaining chip” for countries to leverage in relations between states.