In early December 2018, Sarah McIver, a Canadian teacher, was detained in China for illegal employment. She became the third Canadian citizen detained in China after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, an executive for Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver. Reports indicate up to 13 Canadians have been detained in China since Meng’s arrest, although some of them have already been released by the Chinese authorities, including McIver.
The first two Canadians detained in China, however, remain in custody. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were both arrested on the more serious charge of harming China’s national security.
Meng’s arrest has angered China and Beijing is taking action to retaliate. However, China has adopted two different responses, approaching the issue gently with the United States – which requested Meng’s arrest – while launching strict action against Canada. In doing so, Beijing hopes to deter Canada from following the United States against China, in order to prevent Washington from forming a global and regional offensive against Beijing.