USA backs Canada as China questions motivations in Schellenberg case

An Air Canada jet takes off against a bank of fog from Vancouver International Airport on Tuesday morning. Late Monday the federal government updated its advisory for travellers to China ‘due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has been sentenced to execution for allegedly attempting to smuggle 222kg of methamphetamine from China to Australia in 2014.

"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our global friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply (the) death penalty.as in this case", Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

"We urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China's legal sovereignty, correct its mistakes, and stop making irresponsible remarks", Hua said.

Freeland also listed a number of allies Canada has called upon to speak out against Schellenberg's death sentence and to support its effort to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians imprisoned in China last month.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a notice Tuesday referencing a Chinese national who was "arbitrarily detained" in Canada, an apparent reference to Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CEO who was arrested last month on behalf of the U.S.

Hua's comments add to increasingly strained relations between the two countries since Canada detained Meng on December 1, followed soon after by China's arrest of Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations they were undermining national security.

Schellenberg was jailed in China in 2016 for drug smuggling, but was retried on Monday and sentenced to death after an appeals court in that country agreed with prosecutors who said he was punished too leniently.

"The remarks by the relevant Canadian person lack the most basic awareness of the legal system", Hua said.

Canada also updated its travel advisory regarding China, urging its citizens to exercise a "high degree of caution" before going there, Freeland stated.




Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying sneered that Canada's "so-called allies could be counted on ten fingers" and insisted most of the worldwide community supports China in the Schellenberg case. China has continued to demand Meng's release, as its state media threatened consequences for Canada.

China regularly executes citizens and foreigners convicted of drug-related offences.

"We express our strong dissatisfaction with this, " Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.

On Wednesday, Hua said China has "made clear" the facts, circumstances and gravity of Schellenberg's case.

His lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client has 10 days to contest the latest sentence.

Mr Zhang maintained that the existing evidence was not enough to prove Schellenberg smuggled the 222 kilograms of drugs to Dalian in 2014, nor involved in any worldwide criminal gangs.

Rights groups condemned the Schellenberg sentence while Guy St-Jacques, who was Canada's ambassador in Beijing when Kovrig worked there, expressed concern at how quickly the courts had acted.

Asked if Beijing would consider the clemency request, the foreign ministry said China is a rule of law country.

She rhymed off a list of countries - Germany, France, the Netherlands, the European Union, the United States, Britain, Australia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia - for "publicly coming out and speaking against these arbitrary detentions".

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