Thirteen Canadian detained in China since Huawei’s CFO arrest: Canadian government

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The US State Department issued a warning on Thursday that officials in China "have asserted broad authority" to prevent US citizens from leaving the country and to beware of "arbitrary enforcement of local laws".

Reports say the travel guidance issued by the U.S. comes after the detentions of two Canadians in China last month and came amid heightened diplomatic tensions in the wake of the arrest in Canada of a top executive in Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

In response, the Chinese government on Friday said that the USA travel warning did not hold up, citing the large number of Americans that visited the country previous year.

That number has been stable in recent year and compares to the 900 Canadians detained in the United States for similar reasons, the official said.

Some observers believe the detentions of Kovrig, who works for the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, who is frequently consulted on matters linked to North Korea, were retaliatory actions following the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei's Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who faces extradition to the United States.

"I and the other members of the delegation will engage with Chinese officials in as constructive way as possible, with the obvious objective of seeing these two Canadians returned safely and as soon as possible", Cooper said. Kovrig and Spavor remain in custody.

"It is not convenient to disclose more information now".

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Beijing has only given vague details about the detention of the two Canadians, and hasn't drawn a direct link to Meng's arrest.

Zhang said, without elaborating, the investigation process had been handled "strictly" according to law, when asked by Reuters at a briefing when the two men might be charged.

Meng was released on a C$10 million ($7.4 million) bail on December 11 and is living in one of her two multi-million-dollar Vancouver homes as she fights extradition to the United States.

Little is known about Kovrig's or Spavor's circumstances because they've each had only a single consular visit by Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, last month.

"I and all the members of the delegation want to do whatever we can to play a constructive role to see the safe and speedy return of the two Canadians", Cooper said in an interview on CTV's Power Play. A source familiar with the conditions of Kovrig's detention says he is questioned three times a day and kept in a room with the lights on continuously.

December 21: Kovrig's employer, the International Crisis Group, says he has not been given access to a lawyer while in custody.

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